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Professor John W. Dodds 









^^'5- ^^^^^^^^<^' 

KAIJ.S ()}■ MAC.AHA ■ 





Geological <Jdbserbattons 








VOL. I. 



London : 

Printed by A. Spottibwoodb, 
New- Street-Square. 




My deab Mr, Tickxor, 

I am glad to have your permission to 
dedicate these volumes to you, in remembrance 
of the many happy days spent in your society, 
and in that of your fsimily and literary friends 
at Boston; a remembrance which would be 
without alloy, were it not for my firequent 
regrets that the broad Atlantic should separate 
so many congenial souls whom we both of us 
number among our friends in Europe and 

Believe me, 

With feelings of great regard, 
Ever faithfully yours, 

London, June 12. 1845. 


The reader is reminded that the general map of the 
geology of the United States and Canada forms the 
frontispiece of the second volume, and that the line 
of my route is traced upon it in the manner de- 
scribed in the explanation of the map at Vol. II. 
p. 238. 

As the present work embraces a great variety of 
subjects to which my thoughts were turned during 
my travels in North America, I have endeavoured 
to confine myself as far as possible to the communica- 
tion of such scientific matter as I thought might be 
of interest to the general reader. For a more de- 
tailed account of my geological observations alluded 
to in the course of these volumes, I must refer to 
the following published papers and abstracts of 
memoirs read to the Geological Society of London. 

1. Letter to Dr. Fitton on the Blossberg Coal 
District and Stigmaria: Proceedings of the 
Geological Society^ vol. iii. p. 554. 1841. 


2. Recession of the Falls of Niagara : Ibid. vol. 

iii. p. 595. 1842. Kesumed^ voL iv. p. 19. 

3. Tertiary Formations in Virginia and other 
parts of the United States : Ibid. vol. iii. p. 
735. 1842. 

4. Fossil Foot-Prints of Birds and Impressions 

of Rain-drops in Connecticut Valley. Ibid. 
ToLiii.p.793. 1842. 

5. Tertiary Strata of Martha's Vineyard in 
Massachusetts: Ibid. vol. iv. p. 31. 1843. 

6. On the Geological Position of the Mastodon 
giganteusy and other Remains at Big Bone 
Lick, Kentucky, and other Localities in the 
United States. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 36. 1843. 

7. On upright Fossil Trees found in the Coal 
Strata of Cumberland, Nova Scotia; SillimajC* 
Journaly voL xlv. No. 2. p. 353. 1843. 

8. Coal Formations, Gypsum, and Marine Lime- 
stones of Nova Scotia : Ibid. p. 356. 

9. Bed of Plumbago and Anthracite in Mica- 

schist, near Worcester, Massachusetts^ with 
Appendix containing Analyses by Dr. Percy : 
Quarterly Journ. of Geol. Soc. No. 2. p. 416. 
May, 1845. 
10. Cretaceous Strata of New Jersey, with Ap- 
pendix, on the Fossil Corals of the same, by 
Mr. Lonsdale: Ibid. No. 1. p. 301. Feb. 1845- 


11. Miocene Formations of Virginia and North 

Carolina, &C.5 with Appendix, on Fossil Corals, 
by Mr. Lonsdale : read to the GeoL Soc., 
March^ 1845. Preparing for publication. 
Ibid. No. 4. 

12. On the White Limestone of South Carolina 
and Georgia, and the Eocene Strata of other 
parts of the TJ. S., with Appendix, on the 
Corals, by Mr. Lonsdale: read to the GeoL 
Soc., March, 1845. Preparing for publi- 
cation. Ibid. No. 4. 

Abstracts of most of these papers have also ap* 
peared in Silliman's ** American Journal of Science 
and Arts," for the corresponding years. 

London, June 14th, 1845. 





Voyage. — Harbour of Halifax. — Excursions near Boston. — 
Difference of Plants from European Species, and Correspond- 
ence of Marine Shells. — Resemblance of Drift, Erratics, and 
furrowed Rocks, to those of Sweden. — Springfield. — New- 
haven. — Scenery of the Hudson. — Albany. — Geological 
Surveys. — Mohawk Valley. — Ancient or Silurian Form- 
ations. — Prosperity and rapid Progress of the People. 
— Lake Ontario. — Tortoises. — Fossil remains of Mas- 
todon ------ Page 1 


Distant and near View of the Falls of Niagara. — Whether the 
Falls have receded from Queenston to their present Site. — 
Greographical Features of the Region. — Course of the River 
above and below the Falls. — Recent Proofs of Erosion. — 
Historical Data in the Works of Hennepin and Kalm. — Geo- 
logical Evidence derived from Fluviatile Strata or Remnants 
of an old River-bed in Goat Island and elsewhere. — DiflGi- 
culty of computing the Rate of the retrograde Movement. — 
Varying Hardness and Thickness of the Rocks undermined. — 
Future Recession. — Age of the Drift and Limestone Escarp- 
ments. — Successive Changes which preceded and accompanied 
the Origin of the Falls. — Reflections on the Lapse of past 
Time - - - - - - 27 



Tour from the Niagara to the Northern Frontier of Pennsyl- 
vania. — Ancient Gypsiferous Formation of New York. — 
Fossil Mastodon at Geneseo. — Scenery. — Sudden Growth 
of New Towns. — Coal of Blossberg, and Kesemblance to 
British Coal Measures. — Stigmaria. — Humming Birds. — 
Nomenclature of Places. — Helderberg Mountains and Fossils. 
Refractory Tenants. — Travelling in the States. — Politeness 
to Women. — Canal-boat. — Domestic Service. — Progress of 
Civilisation. — Philadelphia. — Fire-engines - Page 54 


Excursion to New Jersey. — Cretaceous Rocks compared to 
European. — General Analogy of Fossils^ and Distinctness of 
Species. — Tour to the Anthracite Region of the Alleghanies in 
Pennsylvania. — Long Parallel Ridges and Valleys of these 
Mountains. — Pottsville. — Absence of Smoke. — Fossil Plants 
same as in Bituminous CoaL — Stigmaria. — Great thickness 
of Strata. — Origin of Anthracite. — Vast Area of the Ap- 
palachian Coal-field. — Progressive Debituminization of Coal 
from West to East. — General Remarks on the different Groups 
of Rocks between the Atlantic and the Mississippi. — Law of 
Structure of the Appalachian Chain discovered by the Pro- 
fessors Rogers. — Increased folding and dislocation of Strata 
on the south-eastern Flank of the Appalachians. — Theory of 
the Origin of this Mountain Chain . - 77 


Wooded Ridges of the AU^hany Mountains. — German Patois 
m Pennsylvania. — Lehigh Summit Mine. — Effects of Ice 
during a Flood on ihe Delaware. — Election of a Governor at 
Trenton and at Riiladelphia. — Journey to Boston. — Au- 
tumnal Tints of the Foliage. — Boston the Seat of Commerce? 
of Government, and of a University. — Lectures at the Lowell 
Institute. — Influence of Oral Instruction in Literature and 


Science. — Fees of Public Lecturers. — Educational Funds 
sunk in costly Bmldings. — ^Advantages of Anti-building Clauses . 
— Blind Asylum. — Lowell Factories. — National Schools. — 
Equality of Sects. — Society in Boston • Page 101 


Fall of Snow andSfeigh-driving at Boston. — Journey to New- 
liaven. — Ichthyolites of Durham, Connecticut. — Age of Red 
Sandstone. — Income of Farmers. — ^Baltimore. — Washington. 
— National Museum. — Natural impediments to the growth of 
Washington. — Why chosen for the Capital. — Richmond, 
Vir^nia. — Effects of Slave-labour. — Low R^on <m the 
Atlantic Border, occupied by Tertiary Strata. — Infusorial 
Bed at Richmond. — Miocene Shells and Corals in the Cliffs 
of the James River compared with Fossils of the European 
Crag and Faluns. — Analogy oi Forms and difference of 
Species. — Proportion of Species. — Commencement of the 
present Greographical Distribution of MoUusca. - 124 


Pine Barrens of Virginia and North Carolina. — Railway 
Train stopped by Snow and Ice. — The Great Dismal Swamp. 
— Soil formed entirely of Vegetable Matter. — Rises higher 
than the contiguous firm Land. — Buried Timber. — Lake 
in the Middle. — The Origin of Coal, illustrated by the 
Great Dismal. — Objections to the Theory of an ancient 
Atmosphere highly charged with Carbonic Acid - 140 


Tour to Charleston, South Carolina. — Facilities of Locomotion. 
— Augusta. — Voyage down the Savannah River. — Shell 
Bluff. — Slave-labour. — Fever and Ague. — Millhaven. — 
Pine Forests of Georgia. — Alligators and Land-Tortoises. — 
Warmth oi Climate in January. — Tertiary Strata on the 
Savannah. — Fossil Remains of Mastodon and Mylodon near 
Savannah. — Passports required of Slaves. — Cheerfulness of 
the Negroes . - - . - 153 



Return to Charleston. — Fossil Human Skeleton. — Geographical 
Distribution of Quadrupeds in North America. — Severe Frost 
in 1835 in South Carolina. — White Limestone of the Cooper 
River and Santee Canal. — Referred to the Eocene Period, 
and not intermediate between Tertiary and Chalk. — Lime- 
sinks. — Species of Shells conmion to Eocene Strata in America 
and Europe. — Causes of the increased Lisalubrity of the Low 
Region of South Carolina. — Condition of the Slave Population. 

— Cheerftdness of the Negroes : their Vanity. — State of Animal 
Existence. — Invalidity of Marriages. — The Coloured Popula- 
tion multiply faster than the Whites. — Effects of the inter- 
ference of Abolitionists. — Laws against Education. — Gradual 
Emancipation equally desirable for the Whites and the 
Coloured Race ----- Page 171 


Wilmington, N. C. — Mount Vernon. — Return to Philadelphia. 
— Reception of Mr. Dickens. — Museum and Fossil Human 
Bones. — Penitentiary. — Churches. — Religious Excitement. 

— Coloured People of Fortune. — Obstacles to their obtaining 
political and social Equality. — No natural Antipathy between 
the Races. — Negro Reservations - - 196 


Philadelphia. — Financial Crisis. — Payment of State Dividends 
suspended. — General Distress and private Losses of the Ame- 
ricans. — Debt of Pennsylvania. — Public Works. — Direct 
Taxes. — Deficient Revenue. — Bad Faith and Confiscation. — 
Irresponsible Executive. — Loan refused by European Capi- 
talists in 1842. — Good Faith of Congress during the War o^ 
1812-14. — Effects of Universal Suffrage. — Fradulent voting* 

— Aliens. — Solvency and Good Faith of the Majority of the 
States. — Confidence of American Capitalists. — Reform of 
the Electoral Body. — General Progress of Society, and Pro- 
f^ects of the Republic - - - .r 215 

• •• 



New York City. — Greology. — Distribution of Erratic Blocks in 
Long Island. — Residence in New York. — Effects on Society 
of increased Intercourse of distant States. — Separation of the 
Capital and Metropolis. — Climate. — Geology of the Taconic 
Mountains. — Stratum of Plumbago and Anthracite in the 
Mica Schist of Worcester. — Theory of its Origin. — Lectures 
for the Working Classes. — Fossil Foot-prints of Birds in Red 
Sandstone. — Mount Holyoke. — ^Visit to the Island of Martha^s 
Vineyard. — Fossil Walrus. — Indians. - - Page 238 


Meeting of Association of American Geologists at Boston. — 
Popular Libraries in New England. — Large Sale of Literary 
Works in the United States. — American Universities. — 
Harvard Collie, near Boston. — English Universities. — Pe- 
culiarities of their System. — Historical Sketch of the Causes of 
these Peculiarities not of Medieval Origin. — Collegiate Corpo- 
rations. — Their altered Relation to the Enclish Universities 
after the Reformation. — Constitution given to Oxford by 
Leicester and Laud. — System of Public Teaching, how super- 
seded by the Collegiate. — Effects of the Change. — Oxford 
Examination Statute of 1800. — Its subsequent Modifica- 
tion and Results. — Rise of Private Tutors at Oxford and Cam- 
bridge. — Consequences of this Innovation. — Struggle at 
Oxford in 1839 to restore the Professorial System. — Causes 
of its Rejection. — Tractarianism. — Supremacy of Eccle- 
siastics. — Youthful Examiners. — Cambridge. — Advocacy 
of the System followed there. — Influence of the English 
Academical Plan on the Cultivation of the Physical Sciences, 

and all branches of Progressive Knowledge. — Remedies and 
Reforms ------ 261 




VOL. I. 

Plate L Bird's-eye View of the Falls of Kiagara and 
Adjacent Country, coloured geologically. 

Frontispiece to Voi, I, 
Plate IIL Map of the Niagara District. To face Voi. I, p. 30, 

Plate IV. Fac-simile of a View of Niagara Falls, by Father 
Louis Hennepin. — (From the original Utrecht edition, 1697.) 

Page 35. 

Plate V. Fossil Mammalian Kemains from the Tertiary 
Strata of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Page 258. 


Piate n. Geological Map of the United States, Canada, 
&c., compiled from the State Surveys of the U. S., and other 
sources. Frontispiece to Vol, IL 

Plate VI. View of the Great Coal Seam on the Mononaghela 
at Brownsville, Pennsylvania. To face Vol, IL p, 27. 

Plate VJUL. Recent Foot-prints of Birds, the Sandpiper 
(Tringa minuta), on the Red Mud of the Bay of Fundy, 
Nova Scotia — natural size. To face Vol, II, p, 168. 

For the Description of the Plates and Maps, see 

Vol IL p. 235. 


or A 


IN 1841-2. 


Voyage, — Harbour of Halifax, — JExcursione near Boston, — 
Difference of Plants from European Species^ and Correspond- 
ence of Marine Shells, — Resemblance of Drift, Erratics., and 
furrowed JRocks, to those of Sweden, — Springfield, — New- 
haven, — Scenery of the Hudson, — Albany. — Geological 
Surveys, — Mohawk Valley, — Ancient or Silurian Form- 
ations, — Prosperity and rapid Progress of the People, — Lake 
Ontario. — Tortoises. -^ Fossil Remains of Mastodon, 

July 20. 1841. — Sailed from Liverpool for Boston, 
U. S., in the steam-ship Acadia, which held her 
course as straight as an arrow from Cape Clear 
in Ireland to Halifax in Nova Scotia, making 
between 220 and 280 miles per day. 

After the monotony of a week spent on the open 
sea, we were amused when we came near the great 


2 VOYAGE. Chap. I. 

banks which extend from the southern point of 
Newfoundland, by the rapid passage of the steamer 
through alternate belts of stationary fog and clear 
spaces warmed and lighted up with bright sunshine. 
Looking at the dense fog from the intermediate 
sunny regions, we could hardly be persuaded that 
we were not beholding land, so distinct and well- 
defined was its outline, and such the varieties of 
light and shade, that some of our Canadian fellow- 
passengers compared it to the patches of cleared and 
uncleared country on the north shore of the St. Law- 
rence. These fogs are caused by the meeting, over the 
great banks, of the warm waters of the gulf stream 
flowing from the south, and colder currents, often 
charged with floating ice, from the north, by which 
very opposite states in the relative temperature of the 
sea and atmosphere are produced in spaces closely 
contiguous. In places where the sea is warmer 
than the air, fogs are generated. 

When the eye has been accustomed for many 
days to the deep blue of the central Atlantic, the 
greener tint of the sea over the banks is refreshing. 
We were within 150 miles of the southern point 
of Newfoundland when we crossed these banks, 
over which the shallowest water is said to be about 
thirty-five fathoms deep. The bottom consists of 
fine sand, which must be often ploughed up by ice- 


bergs> for several of them were seen aground here 
by some of our passengers on the Slst of July last. 
The captain tells us that the worst months for 
crossing the Atlantic to and from Halifax are Fe- 
bruary and March, and the most agreeable ones, 
July, August, and September. The nearer we ap- 
proached the American coast, the more beautiful 
and brilliant were the sunsets. We sometimes com- 
pared the changing hues of the clouds and sky to 
the blue and red colours in a pigeon's neck. 

July 31. — On the eleventh day of our voyage we 
sailed directly into the harbour of Halifax, which by 
its low hills of granite and slate, covered with birch 
and spruce fir, reminded me more of a Norwegian 
fiord, such as that of Christiania, than any other 
place I had seen. I landed here for six hours, with 
my wife, during which we had time to drive about 
the town, and see the museum, where I was shown 
a large fossil tree filled with sandstone, recently sent 
from strata containing coal in the interior. I re- 
solved to examine these before returning to England, 
as they appeared, by the description given us, to 
afford the finest examples yet known in the world 
of petrified trees occurring in their natural or erect 

Letters, which we had written on the voyage, 
being now committed to the post-oflSce at Halifax, 

B 2 


were taken up next day by the Caledonia steam-ship 
for England, and in less than a month from the time 
of our quitting London, our friends in remote parts 
of great Britain (in Scotland and in Devonshire) 
were reading an account of the harbour of Halifax, 
of the Micmac Indians with their Esquimaux features, 
paddling about in canoes of birch bark, and other 
novelties seen on the shores of the New World. It 
required the aid of the recently established railroads 
at home, as well as the Atlantic steam-packets, to 
render such rapid correspondence possible. 

Auffust 2. — A run of about thirty hours carried 
us to Boston, which we reached in twelve and a 
half days after leaving LiverpooL The heat here is 
intense, the harbour and city beautiful, the air clear 
and entirely free from smoke, so that the shipping 
may be seen far off, at the end of many of the streets. 
The Tremont Hotel merits its reputation as one of 
the best in the world. Recollecting the contrast of 
every thing French when I first crossed the straits 
of Dover, I am astonished, after having traversed the 
wide ocean, at the resemblance of every thing I see 
and hear to things fami^ar at home. It has so often 
happened to me in our own island, without travelling 
into those parts of Wales, Scotland, or Ireland, where 
they talk a perfectly distinct language, to encounter 
provincial dialects which it is difiicult to comprehend. 


that I wonder at finding the people here so very- 
English. If the metropolis of New England be a 
type of a large part of the United States, the 
industry of Sam Slick, and other writers, in collect- 
ing together so many diverting Americanisms and so 
much original slang, is truly great, or their inven- 
tive powers still greater. 

I made excursions to the neighbourhood of Boston 
through Roxbury, Cambridge, and other places, with 
a good botanist, to whom I had brought letters of 
introduction. Although this is not the best season 
for wild flowers, the entire distinctness of the trees, 
shrubs^ and plants, from those on the other side of 
the Atlantic, afibrds a constant charm to the Euro- 
pean traveller. We admired the drooping American 
ehn, a picturesque tree; and saw several kinds of 
sumach, oaks with deeply indented leaves, dwarf 
birches, and several wild roses. Large commons 
without heaths reminded me of the singular fact that 
no species of heath is indigenous on the American 
continent. We missed also the small " crimson- 
tipped" daisy on the green lawns, and were told 
that they have been often cultivated with care, but 
are found to wither when exposed to the dry air and 
bright sun of this climate. When weeds so common 
with us cannot be reared here, we cease to wonder 
at the dissimilarity of the native flora of the New 

B 3 


World. Yet whenever the aboriginal forests are 
cleared, we see orchards, gardens, and arable lands, 
filled with the same fruit trees, the same grain and 
vegetables, as in Europe, so bountifully has Nature 
provided that the plants most useful to man should 
be capable, like himself, of becoming cosmopolites. 

Aug. 5. — Went by railway to deliver letters and 
pay some visits at Nahant, situated on a promontory 
of the coast, about ten miles N.E. of Boston, where 
I examined the rocks of hornblende and syenite, 
traversed by veins of greenstone and basalt which 
often intersect each other. The surface of the rocks, 
wherever the incumbent gravel or drift has been 
recently removed, is polished, furrowed, and striated, 
as in the north of Europe, especially in Sweden, or 
in Switzerland, near the great glaciers. 

On the beach or bar of sand and shingle, which 
unites the peninsula with the main land, I collected 
ibany recent shells, and was immediately struck with 
the agreement of several of the most abundant 
species with our ordinary British littoral shells. 
Among them were Purpura lapillusy Turbo (Litto- 
rind) rudiSy Mytilus edulisy Modiola papuaruiy Mya 
arenariay besides others which were evidently geo- 
graphical representatives of our common species; 
such as Nassa trivittatay allied to our N. reticulata^ 
Turbo palliatus Say, allied to, if not the same as, our 


common T^irho neritoides^ &c. I afterwards added 
largely to the list of corresponding species and forms, 
and Dr. Grould of Boston showed me his collection of 
the marine diells of Massachusetts and the adjoining 
ocean^ and gave me a list of 70 out of 197 species 
whi<^ he regarded as identical with shells from 
Europe. After comparing these on my return, with 
the aid of several able conchologists, I am convinced 
that the greater part of these identifications are 
correct; and, in the place of some considered as doubt- 
ful, there are others not enumerated in Dr. Gould's 
catalogue, which may be substituted, so as to es- 
tablish a result for which few geologists were pre- 
pared, viz. that one third, or about 35 per cent, of the 
marine shells of this part of America are the same as 
those of the opposite side of the Atlantic ; a large 
part of the remainder consisting of geographical 
representatives, and a fraction only of the whole 
affording characteristic or peculiar forms. I shall 
have many opportunities of pointing out the geo- 
logical bearing of this curious, and to me very un- 
expected, fact. 

Several excavations made for railways in the 
neighbourhood of Boston, through mounds of stra- 
tified and unstratified gravel and sand, and also 
through rock, enabled me to recognise the exact 
resemblance of this part of New England to the less 

B 4 


elevated regions of Norway and Sweden, where 
granitic rocks are strewed over irregularly with 
sand and blocks of stone, forming a gently undulating 
country with numerous ponds and small lakes. 
Indeed, had I not been constantly reminded that I 
was in America, by the distinctness of the plants, 
and the birds flying about in the woods, the geo- 
logical phenomena would have led me to suppose 
myself in Scotland, or some other part of Northern 
Europe. These heaps of sand and pebbles are 
entirely devoid of shells or organic remains, and 
occasionally huge rounded blocks, brought from a 
great distance, rest upon them, or are buried in 
them. The heaps are mainly composed, however, of 
the materials of neighbouring rocks. At some points 
the superficial gravel has been pierced to the depth 
of 100, and even more than 200, feet, without the 
solid rock being reached; but more commonly the 
loose detritus is of moderate thickness, and, when 
removed, a polished surface of granite, gneiss, or 
mica schist, is exposed, exhibiting a smooth surface, 
with occasional scratches or straight parallel furrows. 
Here and there, rounded and flattened domes of 
smoothed rock, similar in shape to the "roches mouton- 
nees " which border the Alpine glaciers, are observable. 
The day after I landed, an excavation recently made 
for the monument now erecting on Bunker's Hill^i 


enabled me to reeognise the likeness of this drift to 
that of Scandinavia, and every day since I have 
seen fresh proofs of the complete correspondence of 
these remote districts. Professor Hitchcock has 
shown that in New England the parallel grooves or 
farrows have a general direction nearly north and 
south, but usually ten or fifteen degrees to the west 
of north. I have already seen, at Nahant and else- 
where, some marked deviations from this rule, which, 
however, is correct in the main, and these markings 
have been foimd to prevail at all heights in New 
England, even in mountains more than 2000 feet 

I have already observed several rounded boulders 
with one flat side scratched and furrowed, as if 
it had been held firmly in one position when 
frozen into ice, and rubbed against a hard rocky 

There is here, as in Sweden, so great an extent of 
low country remote from any high mountains, that 
we cannot attribute the effects above described to 
trae glaciers descending in the open air from the 
higher regions to the plains. If we adopt the glacial 
theory, wo must suppose the country to have been 
submerged, and that the northern drift was brought 
here by large bodies of floating ice, which, by re- 
peatedly running aground on the bottom of the sea 

B 5 


for thousands of years, and forcing along the sand 
under their enormous weight, polished and furrowed 
the rocky bottom, and on the melting of the ice, let 
fall their burden of stones or erratic blocks, together 
with mud and pebbles. 

When we recollect that Boston is situated in the 
latitude of Rome, or in that of the north of Spsdn, 
and that the northern drift and erratic blocks in 
Europe are first met with about the 50th degree of 
latitude, and then increase as we travel towards the 
pole; there seems ground for presuming, that the 
greater cold which now marks the climate of North 
America had begun to prevail long before the pre- 
sent distribution of land and sea in the northern 
hemisphere, and before the present climates were 
established. Perhaps, even in the glacial period of 
geology, the lines of equal winter's cold, when drawn 
from Europe to North America, made a curve of 
about 10° to the southward, as in our own times. 

Aug. 9. — After a week spent very agreeably at 
Boston, we started for Newhaven in Connecticut, 
going the first hundred miles on an excellent railway 
in three hours and a half, for three dollars each. The 
speed of the railways in this State, the most populous 
in the Union, is far greater than elsewhere, and I am 
told that they are made with American capital, and 
for the most part pay good interest. There are 


no tunnels, and so few embankments that they afford 
the traveller a good view of the country. The 
number of small lakes and ponds, such as are seen in 
the country between Lund and Stockholm, in Swe- 
den, affords a pleasing variety to the scenery, and 
they are as useful as they are ornamental. The 
water is beautifully clear, and when frozen to the 
depth of many feet in winter, supplies those large 
cubical masses of ice, which are sawed and trans- 
ported to the principal cities throughout the Union, 
and even shipped to Calcutta, crossing the equator 
twice in their outward voyage. It has been truly 
said, that this part of New England owes its wealth 
to its industry, the soil being sterile, the timber 
small, and there being no staple commodities of 
native growth, except ice and granite. 

In the inland country between Boston and Spring- 
field, we saw some sand-hills like the dunes of blown 
sand near the coast, which were probably formed on 
the sea-side before the country was elevated to its 
present height. We passed many fields of maize, or 
Indian com, before arriving at Springfield, which is 
a beautiful village, with fine avenues of the American 
elm on each side of the wide streets. From Spring- 
field we descended the river Connecticut in a steam- 
boat. Its banks were covered with an elegant species 
of golden rod (^Solidago)^ with its showy bright yellow 

B 6 

12 NEWHAVEN. Chap. I. 

flowers. I have been hitherto disappointed in seeing 
no large timber, and I am told that it was cut down 
originally in New England without mercy, because 
it served as an ambush for the Indians, since which 
time it has never recovered, being consumed largely 
for fuel. The Americans of these Eastern States 
who visit Europe have, strange to say, derived their 
ideas of noble trees more from those of our principal 
English parks, than from the native forests of the 
New World. 

I visited Rocky Hill, near Hartford in Connec- 
ticut, where the contact is seen of a large mass of 
columnar trap with red sandstone. In a large quarry, 
the distinct joints which divide the sandstone con- 
trast finely with the divisional planes which separate 
the basalt into pillars. The evidence of alteration 
by heat at the point of contact is very marked, and 
has been well described by Dr. Silliman in a paper on 
the rocks of this place. 

The town of Newhaven, with a population of 
21,000 souls, possesses, like Springfield, fine avenues 
of trees in its streets, which mingle agreeably with 
the buildings of the university, and the numerous 
churches, of which we counted more than twenty 
steeples. When attending service, according to the 
Presbyterian form, in the College chapel on Sunday, 
I could scarcely believe I was not in Scotland^ 

Chap.L NEWHAVEN. 13 

In an expedition to the north of the town^ accom- 
panied by Professor Silliman^ his son^ and Mr. Per- 
ciTal, a geologist to whom the execution of the State 
Survey of Connecticut was entrusted, I examined 
the red sandstone {New Red) and intrusive volcanic 
rocks (basalt and greenstone) of this neighbourhood. 
Dykes of various sizes intersect the stratified rocks, 
and occasionally fiow in great tabular masses nearly 
parallel to the strata, so as to have the picturesque 
effect of cappings of columnar basalt, although Mr. 
Percival has shown that they are in reality intrusive, 
and alter the strata in contact both above and below. 
The East and West Rocks near Newhaven, crowned 
with trap, bear a strong resemblance in their outline 
and general aspect to Salisbury Crags, and other hills 
of the same structure near Edinburgh. 

We saw in Hampden parish, lat. 41° 19', on the 
summit of a high hill of sandstone, a huge erratic 
block of greenstone, 100 feet in circumference, and 
projecting 11 feet above ground. Other large trans- 
ported fragments have been met with more than 
1000 feet above the level of the sea, and every 
where straight parallel furrows appear on the smooth 
surface of the rocks, where the superficial gravel and 
sand are removed. 

In a garden at Newhaven (August 13.) I saw, for 
the first time, a humming bird on the wing. It was 


fluttering round the flowers of a Grladiolus« In the 
suburbs we gathered a splendid wild flower, the 
scarlet Lobelia, and a laige sweet-scented water-lily. 
The only singing bird which we heard was a thrush 
with a red breast, which they call here the i*obiil. 
The grasshoppers weife as numerous ^iid as noisy as 
in Italy. As we returned in the evening over some 
low marshy ground, we saw several fire-flies, showing 
an occasional bright spark. They are small beetles 
resembling our male glow-Worms {Lampyris Linn., 
Pyrolampis scintillans Say). 

Auff. 13. - A krge steam^p carried us from 
Newhaven to New York, a distance of about ninety 
miles, in less than six hours. We had Long Island 
on the one side, and the main land on the other, 
the scenery at first tame from the width of the 
channel, but very lively and striking when this 
became more contracted, and at length we seemed to 
sail into the very suburbs of the great city itself, 
passing between green islands, some of them covered 
with buildings and villas. We had the same bright 
sunshine which we have enjoyed ever since we 
landed, and an atmosphere unsullied by the chim- 
nies of countless steam-boats, factories, and houses, 
of a population of more than 300,000 souls, thanks 
to the remoteness of aU fuel save anthracite and 


Jfext day, I went with Mr. Redfield, well known 
by his meteorological writings^ acrods the Passaic 
river to Newark in New Jersey, where we examined 
quarries of the New Bed Sandstone, and saw the 
surfaces of the strata ripple-marked, and with im- 
pressions of rain-drops. They also exhibit casts on 
their under sides of cracks, which have been formed 
by the shrinking of the layers of clay when drying. 
These appearances, together with imbedded fragments 
of carbonized fossil wood, such as may have been 
drifted on a beach, bespeak the littoral character of 
the formation on which, in many places in Con- 
necticut and Massachussetts, the fossil footsteps of 
birds, to whidi I shall afterwards allude, have been 
found imprinted. 

Aug. 16. — Sfiiled in the splendid new steam-ship 
the Troy, in company with about 500 passengers, 
from New York to Albany, 145 miles, at the rate 
of about 16 miles an hour. When I was informed 
that "seventeen of these vessels went to a mile," 
it seemed incredible, but I found that in fact the 
deck measured 300 feet in length. To give a suffi- 
cient supply of oxygen to the anthracite, the 
machinery is made to work two bellows, which blow 
a strong current of air into the furnace. The Hud- 
son is an arm of the sea or estuary, about twelve 
fathoms deep, above New York, and its waters are 

16 ALBANY. Chap. I. 

inhabited by a curious mixture of marine and fresh- 
water plants and moUusca. At first on our left^ or 
on the western bank^ we had a lofty precipice of 
columnar basalt from 400 to 600 feet in height, 
called the Palisades, extremely picturesque. This 
basalt rests on sandstone, which is of the same age 
as that before mentioned near Newhaven, but has 
an opposite or westward dip. On arriving at the 
Highlands, the winding channel is closed in by steep 
hills of gneiss on both sides, and the vessel often 
holds her course as if bearing directly on the land. 
The stranger cannot guess in which direction he is 
to penetrate the rocky gorge, but he soon emerges 
again into a broad valley, the blue Catskill mountains 
appearing in the distance. The scenery deserves all 
the praise which has been lavished upon it, and 
when the passage is made in nine hours it is full of 
variety and contrast. 

At Albany, a town finely situated on the Hudson, 
and the capital of the State of New York, I found 
several geologists employed in the Grovemment sur- 
vey, and busily engaged in forming a fine museum, to 
illustrate the organic remains and mineral products 
of the country. This State is divided into about the 
same number of counties as England, and is not 
very inferior to it in extent of territory. The 
legislature four years ago voted a considerable sum of 


money, more than 200,000 dollars, or 40,000 guineas, 
for exploring its Natural History and mineral struc- 
ture ; and at the end of the first two years several 
of the geological surveyors, of whom four principal 
ones were appointed, reported, among other results, 
their opinion, that no coal would ever be discovered 
in their respective districts. This announcement 
caused no small disappointment, especially as the 
neighbouring state of Pennsylvania was very rich in 
coal. Accordingly, during my tour, I heard fre- 
quent complaints that, not satisfied with their in- 
ability to find coal themselves, the sm'veyors had 
decided that no one else would ever be able to detect 
any, having had the presumption to pass a sentence of 
future sterility on the whole land. Yet, in spite of 
these expressions of ill-humour, it was satisfactory 
to observe that the rashness of private speculators 
had received a wholesome check ; and large sums of 
money, which for twenty years previously had been 
annually squandered in trials for coal in rocks below 
the carboniferous series, were henceforth saved to the 
public. There can be little doubt that the advantage 
derived to the resources of the State by the cessation 
of this annual outlay alone, and the more profitable 
direction since given to private enterprise, is sufii- 
cient to indemnify the country, on mere utilitarian 
groimds, for the sum so munificently expended by 


the government on geological investigations. The 
resemblance of certain Silurian rocks on the banks 
of the Hudson river to the bitiuninous shales of the 
true Coal formation was the chief cause of the 
deception which misled the mining advenf^iiers of 
New York. I made an excursion southwards from 
Albany, with a party of geologists, to Nortoanskill 
Creek, where there is a waterfall, to examkie these 
black slates, containing graptolites, trilobites, and 
other Lower Silurian fossils. By persons ignorant 
of the order of superposition and of fossil remains; 
they might easily be mistaken for Coal measures, 
especially as some small particles of anthracite, per- 
haps of animal origin, do actually occur in them. 

On leaving Albany, I determined so to plan my 
route to the Falls of Niagara and back again to the 
Hudson, as to enable me to see by the way the 
entire succession of mineral groups fit)m the lowest 
Silurian up to the coal of Pennsylvania. Mr. James 
HaU, to whose hands the north-west division of the 
geological survey of New York had been confided, 
kindly offered himself as my guide. Taking the 
railway to Schenectady, and along the Mohawk 
valley, we first stopped at Little Falls, where we 
examined the gneiss and the lowest Silurian sand- 
stone resting upon it. We then pursued our journey 
along the line of the Erie Canal and the Mohawk 


River, stopping here and there to examine quarries 
of limestcme, and making a short detour through the 
beautiful valley of Cedarville in Herkimer County, 
where thare is a fine section of the strata. After- 
wards we explored the picturesque ravine through 
which the Genesee flows at Rochester, t3ie river 
descending by a succession of cataracts over the 
same rocks which are exposed farther westward on 
the Niagara. The excavations also made for the 
grand canal of Lockport afforded us a fine oppor- 
tunity of seeing these older fossiliferous rocks laid 
open to view. At this point the barges laden with 
merchandise climb up, by a series of locks placed one 
above the other, to the table land in which Lake 
Erie is situated. In the course of this short tour, I 
became convinced that we must turn to the New 
World if we wish to see in perfection the oldest 
monuments of the earth's history, so far at least as 
relates to its earliest inhabitants. Certainly in no 
other country are these ancient strata developed on a 
grander scale, or more plentifully charged with 
fossils ; and, as they are nearly horizontal, the order 
of their relative position is always clear and un- 
equivocal. They exhibit, moreover, in their range 
from the Hudson River to the Niagara, some fine 
examples of the gradual manner in which certain 
sets of strata thin out when followed for hundreds 


of miles^ while others previously wanting become 
intercalated in the series. Thus, for example, some 
of the limestones which are seyeral hundred feet 
thick in the Helderberg HiUs, near Albany, are 
scarcely forty feet thick in the Niagara district ; and 
on the other hand, the rocks oyer which the cataract 
of Niagara is precipitated, dwindle away to such 
insignificant dimensions when foUowed eastward to 
the hills S-W. of Albany, that their place in the 
series there can scarcely be recognised. Another 
interesting fact may be noticed as the result even 
of a cursory survey of the fossils of these North 
American rocks, namely, that while some of the 
species agree, the majority of them are not identical 
with those found in strata, which are their equiva- 
lents in age and position on the other side of the 
Atlantic. Some fossils which are identical, such as 
Atryjpa affinisy Leptcsna depressa^ and L. euglypha^ 
are precisely those shells which have a great vertical 
and horizontal range in Europe, — species which were 
capable of surviving many successive changes in the 
earth's surface, and for the same reason enjoyed at 
certain periods a wide geographical range. It has 
been usually affirmed that in the rocks older than 
the carboniferous, the fossil fauna in difierent parts 
of the globe was almost every where the same ; but, 
judging from the first assemblage of organic re- 


mains which I have seen here^ it appears to me^ that 
however close the general analogy of forms may be. 
there is evidence of the same law of variation in 
space as now prevails in the living creation. 

A few years ago> it was a fatiguing tour of many 
weeks to reach the Falls of Niagara from Albany. 
We are now carried along at the rate of sixteen miles 
an hour, on a railway often supported on piles, through 
large swamps covered with aquatic trees and shrubs, 
or through dense forests, with occasional clearings, 
where orchards are planted by anticipation among the 
stumps, before they have even had time to run up a 
log-house. The traveUer views with surprise, in the 
midst of so much unoccupied land, one flourishing 
town after another, such as Utica, Syracuse, and 
Auburn. At Rochester he admires the streets of 
large houses, inhabited by 20,000 souls, where the 
first settler built his log-cabin in the wilderness only 
twenty-five years ago. At one point our train 
stopped at a handsome new built station-house, and, 
looking out at one window, we saw a group of 
Indians of the Oneida tribe, lately the owners of the 
broad lands around, but now humbly offering for sale 
a few trinkets, such as baskets ornamented with 
porcupine quills, moccasins of moosenleer skin, and 
boxes of birch-bark. At the other window stood a 
well-dressed waiter handing ices and confectionary. 


When we reflect that some single towns> of which 
the foundations were laid by persons still living, can 
already number a population, equal to all the abori- 
ginal hunter tribes who possessed the forests for hun- 
dreds of miles around, we soon cease to repine at the 
extraordinary revolution, however much we may 
commiserate the unhappy fate of the disinherited race. 
They who are accustomed to coimect the romance 
of their travels in Europe or Asia with historical re- 
collections and the monuments of former glory, with 
the study of masterpieces in the fine arts, or with 
grand and magnificent scenery, will hardly believe the 
romantic sensations which may be inspired by the 
aspect of this region, where very few points of pictu- 
resque beauty meet the eye, and where the aboriginal 
forest has lost its charm of savage wildness by the 
intrusion of railways and canals. The foreign natu- 
ralist indeed sees novelty in every plant, bird, and 
insect ; and the remarkable resemblances of the rocks 
at so great a distance from home are to him a source 
of wonder and instruction. But there are other 
objects of intense interest, to enliven or excite the 
imagination of every traveller. Here, instead of 
dweUing on the past, and on the signs of pomp and 
grandeur which have vanished, the mind is filled with 
images of coming power and splendour. The vast 
stride made by one generation in a brief moment of 


time, naturallj disposes us to magnify and exaggerate 
the rapid rate of future improvement. The contem- 
plation of 80 much prosperity^ such entire absence of 
want and poverty^ so many school-houses and 
churches^ rising every where in the woods, and such a 
general desire of education, with the consciousness 
that a great continent lies beyond, which has still to 
be appropriated, fills the traveller with cheering 
thoughts and sanguine hopes. He may be reminded 
that there is another side to the picture, that where 
the success has been so brilliant and where large 
fortunes have been hastily realised, there will be rash 
speculations and bitter disappointments; but these 
ideas do not force themselves into the reveries of the 
passing stranger. He sees around him the solid 
fruits of victory, and forgets that many a soldier in 
the foremost ranks has fallen in the breach ; and cold 
indeed would be his temperament if he did not 
sympathise with the freshness and hopefulness of a 
new country, and feel as men past the prime of life 
are accustomed to feel when in company with the 
young, who are full of health and buoyant spirits, 
of faith and confidence in the future. 

Auff. 24. — In the suburbs of Rochester, Mr. Hall 
and I visited a spot where the remains of the great 
Mastodon had been dug up from a bed of white shell- 
marL I found fragments of the .fossil teeth and 


ivory of one tusk^ and asoertwied that the accom- 
panying shells were of recent species of the genera 
Limneuy Planorbis, Valvata, Cyclas^ &c- We also 
examined the narrow ridge composed of sand and 
gravel between Rochester and Lake Ontario, which 
has been traced for a hundred miles, running nearly 
parallel to the lake, and from three to eight miles dis- 
tant from it. It rises from ten to twenty feet above 
the general level of the surrounding plain of clay, and 
presents a steep slope to the north and south, afford- 
ing an excellent road, like the sand-ridges or osars 
which I have seen in Sweden, and which are doubt- 
less of similar origin. Geologists are all agreed that 
these and other similar ridges surrounding the great 
Canadian lakes, and occurring at different heights 
above them, were once lines of beach surrounding 
great bodies of water. Whether these consisted of 
lakes or seas, — how the water came to stand at so 
many different levels, and whether some of the ridges 
were not originally banks and bars of sand formed 
under water, are points which I shall discuss in the 

While we were roaming along the shore of Lake 
Ontario, to compare the old ridge road with the 
modern beach, we saw several tortoises of different 
species basking in the sun on logs of drift wood in the 
shallow ponds connected with the lake. We caught 

Chap. L TORTOISES. 25 

one of these {Testudo pictci), which has a gaily 
coloured shelly and I afterwards carried it a day's 
journey in the carriage, and then turned it out, to see 
whether, as I was told, it would know its way back 
to Lake Ontario. I am bound to admit that its 
instinct on this occasion did not fail, for it made 
directly for a ravine, in the bottom of which was a 
stream that would lead it in time to the Genesee 
River, and this would carry it to its native lake, if it 
escaped destruction at the falls below Rochester, 
where the celebrated diver, Sam Patch, perished, 
after he had succeeded in throwing himself with im- 
punity down several other great waterfalls. There 
is a freshwater tortoise in Europe ( Terrapena Eu- 
roped), found in Hungary, Prussia, and Silesia, as far 
north as lat. 50** to 52^. It also occurs near Bordeaux, 
and in the north of Italy, 44° and 45° N. lat., which 
precisely corresponds with the latitude of Lake 

In moist places along the lake shore, and in the 
lanes and high roads, we saw numerous yellow but- 
terflies ( Colzas philodice — (7. Europoma of some 
authors) very like a British species. Sometimes 
forty clustering on a small spot resembled a plot of 
primroses, and as they rose altogether, and flew off* 
slowly on every side, it was like the play of a beau- 
tiful ^fountain. 



On our way home through the woods we stopped 
at the cabin of some new settlers near the lake^ many 
miles from any neighbours^ in the midst of a square 
clearing covered with blackened stumps, where not a 
single tree or shrub had been spared. The view was 
bounded on every side by a dense wall of dark wood 
striped with white by the vertical lines of the numerous 
tall and straight trees without side branches, and sup- 
porting a dark canopy of foliage. When we admired 
the forest, the settler's wife was pleased, but said, 
sighing, that she could not get her children to see any 
beauty in trees. They had never known the old 
country, nor other friends, and were happier than 
she and her husband could be, though in their 
worldly concerns they were thriving, and had every 
reason to feel content, except when attacked by the 
ague, so common in the newly-cleared grounds. falls of niagaba. 27 


Distant and near View of the Falls of Niagara. — Whether the 
FaUs have receded from Queenston to their present Site. — 
Geographical Features of the Region. — Course of the River 
above and below the FaUs. — Recent Proofs of Erosion. — 
Historical Data in the Works of Hennepin and Kalm. — Geo- 
logical Evidence derived from Fluviatile Strata or Remnants 
of an old River-bed in Goat Island and elsewhere. — Diffi- 
culty of computing the Rate of the retrograde Movem£nt. — 
Varying Hardness and Thickness of the Rocks undermined, — - 
Future Recession. — Age of the Drift and Limestone Escarp- 
ments. — Successive Changes which preceded and accompanied 
the Origin of the Falls. — Reflections on the Lapse of past 

Aug. 27. — We first came in sight of the Falls of 
Niagara when they were about three miles distant. 
The sun was shining full upon them — no building in 
view — nothing but the green wood, the falling water, 
and the white foam. At that moment they appeared 
to me more beautiful than I had expected, and less 
grand ; but after several days, when I had enjoyed a 
nearer view of the two cataracts, had listened to their 
thundering sound, and gazed on them for hours from 
above and below, and had watched the river foaming 
over the rapids, then plunging headlong into the 
dark pool, — and when I had explored the delightful 
island which divides the falls, where the solitude of 

c 2 


the ancient forest is still unbroken, I at last learned 
by degrees to comprehend the wonders of the scene, 
and to feel its full magnificence. 

Early in the morning after our arrival, I saw from 
the window of our hotel, on the American side, a 
long train of white vapoury clouds hanging over the 
deep chasm below the falls. They were slightly 
tinted by the rays of the rising sun, and blown slowly 
northwards by a gentle breeze from the pool below 
the cataract, which was itself invisible from this point 
of view. No fog was rising from the ground, the 
sky was clear above ; and as the day advanced, and 
the air grew warm, the vapours all disappeared. 
This scene reminded me of my first view of Mount 
Etna from Catania, at sunrise in the autumn of 1828, 
when I saw dense volumes of steam issuing from the 
summit of the highest crater in a clear blue sky, 
which, at the height of more than two miles above 
the sea, assumed at once the usual shape and hues of 
clouds in the upper atmosphere. These, too, va- 
nished before noon, as soon as the sun's heat in- 

Etna presents us not merely with an image of the 
power of subterranean heat, but a record also of the 
vast period of time during which that power has 
been exerted. A majestic mountain has been pro- 
duced by volcanic action, yet the time of which the 


volcano forms the register, however vast, is found by 
the geologist to be of inconsiderable amount, even in 
the modem annals of the earth's history. In like 
manner, the Falls of Niagara teach us not merely to 
appreciate the power of moving water, but furnish 
us at the same time with data for estimating the 
enormous lapse of ages during which that force has 
operated. A deep and long ravine has been ex- 
cavated, and the river ha^ required ages to accomplish 
the task, yet the same region affords evidence that 
the sum of these ages is as nothing, and as the work 
of yesterday, when compared to the antecedent 
periods, of which there are monuments in the same 

It has long been a favourite subject of discussion 
whether the Falls were once situated seven miles 
farther north, or at Queenston. The ideal bird's- 
eye view given in the frontispiece may assist the 
reader who has not visited the spot to form a 
tolerably correct general notion of the geographical 
configuration of this country, which is very simple. 
The view has been constructed from a sketch pub- 
lished by Mr. Bakewell, in Loudon's Magazine for 
1830, into which the geological representation of 
the rocks, as they appear on the surface and in the 
ravine of the Niagara, has been introduced from the 

c 3 


State Survey by Mr. Hall.* The platform, in a 
depression of which Lake Erie is situated, is more 
than 330 feet above Lake Ontario, and the descent 
from a higher to a lower level is sudden and abrupt 
at the escarpment called the Queenston heights* 
The strata throughout this whole region are nearly 
horizontal, but they have a gentle dip to the south 
of 25 feet in a mile. This inclination is sufficient 
to cause the different groups of rock to crop out one 
from beneath the other, or come up to the surface in 
parallel zones, which may be traced for a great 
distance east and west through the state of New 
York and Canada. (See Map.) They aU consist of 
different members of the Silurian series, the upper- 
most or newest being those nearest to Lake Erie. 
(See section fig. 4., p. 45.) In the birdVeye view, 
the Niagara is seen bounded by low banks where it 
issues from Lake Erie, and varying in width from 
one to three miles. It here resembles a prolongation 
of the tranquil lake, being interspersed with low 
wooded islands. This lake-like scenery continues 
for about fifteen miles, during which the fall of the 

* Mr. Bakewell gave me his original sketches in 1841, and I 
conceived the idea of combining his pictorial view with a geo- 
logical representation of the rocks before I gave a lecture on 
the Niagara district at Boston, in October 1841, in which, and 
in planning some of the other diagrams, and in discussing the 
theory of recession, I was assisted by Mr. Hall. 


I : • 

; I 


I I 

! / 

-r / 

{ rt . 

1 c 

2 : 

\ yiagtva jhaJt 

•* fi?"^^? fVniun group 

» :: 


6 [^ 21] J'"*'^ J«/««0*»n* 


river scarcely exceeds as many feet, but on reaching 
the rapids, it descends over a limestone bed about 50 
feet in less than a mile, and is then thrown down about 
165 feet perpendicularly at the Falls. The largest of 
these, called the Horse-shoe Fall, is 1800 feet, or 
more than a third of a mile, broad, the island in the 
midst somewhat less in width, and the American 
Fall about 600 feet wide. The deep narrow chasm 
below the great cataract is from 200 to 400 yards 
wide, and 300 feet deep; and here in seven miles 
the river descends 100 feet, at the end of which it 
emerges from the gorge into the open and flat coun- 
try, so nearly on a level with Lake Ontario that 
there is only a fall of about four feet in the seven 
additional miles which intervene between Queenston 
and the lake. The great ravine is winding, and 
makes a turn nearly at right angles to itself at the 
whirlpool, where the Niagara sweeps round a large 
circular basin, but it is represented in the frontis- 
piece as nearly straight, for the sake of showing the 
stratification; and its proportional height is pur- 
posely exaggerated. At some points the boundary 
cliffs are undermined on one side by the impetuous 
stream, but there is usually a talus at the base of 
the precipice, supporting a very ornamental fringe of 

It has long been the popular belief, from a mere 

c 4 


cursory inspection of this district, that the Niagara 
once flowed in a shallow valley across the whole plat- 
form from the present site of the Falls to the Queen- 
ston heights, where it is supposed the cataract was 
first situated, and that the river has been slowly eating 
its way backwards through the rocks for a distance 
of seven miles. According to this hypothesis, the Falls 
must have had originally nearly twice their present 
height, and must have been always diminishing in 
grandeur from age to age, as they will continue to do 
in future so long as the retrograde movement is pro- 
longed. It becomes, therefore, a matter of no small 
curiosity and interest to inquire at what rate the 
work of excavation is now going on, and thus to 
obtain a measure for calculating how many thousands 
of years or centuries have been required to hollow 
out the chasm already excavated. 

It is an ascertained fact, that the Falls do not 
remain absolutely stationary at the same point of 
space, and that they Iiave shifted their position 
slightly during the last half century. Every observer 
will also be convinced that the small portion of the 
great ravine, which has been eroded within the me- 
mory of man, is so precisely identical in character 
with the whole gorge for seven miles below, that the 
river supplies an adequate cause for executing the kecent proofs of erosion. 33 

task assigned to it, provided we grant suflScient time 
for its completion. 

The waters, after cutting through strata of lime- 
stone, about fifty feet thick in the rapids, descend 
perpendicularly at the Falls over another mass of 
limestone about ninety feet thick, beneath which lie 
soft shales of equal thickness, continually under- 
mined by the action of the spray driven violently by 
gusts of wind against the base of the precipice. In 
consequence of this disintegration, portions of the 
incumbent rock are left unsupported, and tumble 
down from time to time, so that the cataract is 
made to recede southwards. The sudden descent of 
huge rocky fragments of the undermined limestone 
at the Horseshoe Fall, in 1828, and another at the 
American Fall, in 1818, are said to have shaken the 
adjacent country like an earthquake. According to 
the statement of our guide in 1841, Samuel Hooker, 
an indentation of about forty feet has been produced 
in the middle of the ledge of limestone at the lesser 
fall since the year 1815, so that it has begun to 
assume the shape of a crescent, while within the same 
period the Horseshoe Fall has been altered so as less 
to deserve its name. Goat Island has lost several 
acres in area in the last four years, and I have no 
doubt that this waste neither is, nor has been, a mere 
temporary accident, since I found that the same 

c 5 


recession was in progress in various other waterfalls 
which I visited with Mr. Hall, in the state of New 
York. Some of these intersect the same rocks as the 
Niagara — for example the Genesee at Rochester; 
others are cutting their way through newer formations, 
as AUan's Creek below Le Roy, or the Genesee at 
its upper falls at Portage. Mr. Bakewell calcu- 
lated that, in the forty years preceding 1830, the 
Niagara had been going back at the rate of about a 
yard annually, but I conceive that one foot per year 
would be a much more probable conjecture, in which 
case 35,000 years would have been required for the 
retreat of the Falls from the escarpment of Queen- 
ston to their present site, if we could assume that 
the retrograde movement had been uniform through- 
out. This, however, could not have been the case, as 
at every step in the process of excavation the height 
of the precipice, the hardness of the materials at its 
base, and the quantity of fallen matter to be removed, 
must have varied. At some points it may have 
receded much faster than at present, at others much 
slower, and it would be scarcely possible to decide 
whether its average progress has been more or less 
rapid than now. 

Unfortunatelv our historical evidence of the former 
condition of the cataract is meagre and scanty in the 
extreme. Sixty years ago the whole district between 




.V • 








akes Erie and Ontario was a wilderness in which 
e Indian hunter chased the bear and the buffalo. 
when at Boston, my attention was called by Mr. 
Hbgraham to a work translated from the original 
French of Father Hennepin, a missionary who gave 
a description of the grand cataract and a plate of it, 
aa it appeared in the year 1678. It is not wonderful 
that coming suddenly upon the Falls, which no Euro- 
pean traveller had ever seen before, he should have 
believed them to be twice their real height. " Betwixt 
the lakes Ontario and Erie," he says, " there is a vast 
and prodigious cadence of water, which falls after 
an astonishing manner, insomuch that the universe 
does not afford its parallel. As to the waters of Italy 
and Swedeland, they are but sorry patterns of it, 
and this wonderful downfall is compounded of two 
great faUs, with an isle in the middle, and there is 
another cascade less than the other two which falls 
from west to east. I wished a hundred times that 
somebody had been with us, who could have de- 
scribed the wonders of this frightful fall. In the 
mean time, accept the following draught such as it 
is." — From his plate it appears that this third cascade 
was produced by what he terms " the elbow " caused 
by the projection of. the table rock, which must then 
have been more prominent than now. 

Seventy-three years afterwards, or in 1751, a letter 

c 6 

36 KALM'S description. Chap.II. 

was published in the Gentleman's Magazine for that 
year by Kalm, the Swedish botanist, on the Falls of 
Niagara. His description is also illustrated by a 
plate, in which the proportional height and breadth of 
the Falls are given more correctly. The lesser Fall 
on the left bank of the river is omitted ; but at the 
place where it had been represented in Father Henne- 
pin's sketch, Kalm inserts the letter " «," referring to 
a note in which he says, " Here the water was for- 
merly forced out of its direct course by a projecting 
rock, which when standing turned the water off ob- 
liquely across the other Fall." 

This observation confirms the reality of Hennepin's 
oblique cascade, and shows that some waste had been 
going on in the intermediate seventy-three years, 
making a visible alteration in the scene, and leading 
us to infer that the rocks have been suffering con- 
tinual dilapidation for more than the last century and 
a half. 

In the absence of more ample historical data, we 
are fortunately not without geological evidence of the 
former existence of a channel of the Niagara at a 
much higher level, before the table-land was inter- 
sected by the great ravine. Long before my visit to 
the Niagara, I had been informed of the existence on 
Goat Island of beds of gravel and sand containing 
fluviatile shells, and some account had been given of 



these by Mr. Hall in his first report in 1839 ; I there- 
fore proposed to him that we should examine these 
careftdly, and see if we could trace any remnants of 
the same along the edges of the river-cliffs below the 
Falls. We began by collecting in Goat Island shells 
of the genera Unio^ Cyclas^ Melania^ Valvata, Lim- 
nea, Planorhis^ and Helix, all of recent species, in the 
superficial deposit. They form regular beds, and nu- 
merous individuals of the Urdo and Cyclas have both 
their valves united. We then found the same form- 
ation exactly opposite to the Falls on the top of the 

Fig. I. 


Section at Niagara Falls. ^ 

L. Limestone 80 feet thick. S. Shal« 80 feet thick. 

d. Freshwater strata ou Goat Island, above 20 feet thick. 

df. Same formation on the American side, containing bones of Mastodon. 

e. Ledge of bare limestone on the Canada side. 
/. Ancient drift. 

cliff (at d', fig. 1.) on the American side, where two 
river-terraces, one twelve and the other twenty-four 
feet above the Niagara, have been cut in the modem 
deposits. In these we observed the same fossil shells as 
in G-oat Island, and learnt that the teeth and other re- 
mains of a mastodon, some of which were shown us. 


had been found thirteen feet below the surface 
of the soil. We were then taken by our guide 
to a spot farther north, where similar gravel and 
sand with fluviatile shells occurred near the edge of 
the cliff, overhanging the ravine, resting on the solid 
limestone. It was about half a mile below the prin- 
cipal Fall, and extended at some points 300 yards 
inland, but no farther, for it was then bounded by the 
bank of more ancient drift (/, fig. 1.). This deposit 
precisely occupies the place which the ancient bed 
and alluvial plain of the Niagara would naturally 
have filled, if the river once extended farther north- 
wards, at a level sufficiently high to cover the 
greater part of Goat Island. At that period the ravine 

Fig. 2. 
North. South. 

Section qfGoat Island from North to South, ^iOO feet in length. 

A. Massive compact portion of the Niagara limestone. 

B. Upper thin-bedded portion of the Niagara limestone, strata slightly inclined to 

the South. 
c. Horizontal freshwater beds of gravel, sand, and loam, with shells. 
D, E. Present surface of the river Niagara at the Rapids. 

could not have existed, and there must have been a 
barrier several miles lower down, at or near the 

The supposed original channel, through which the 

Chap. 11. IN GOAT ISLAND. 39 

waters flowed from Lake Erie to Queenston or 
Lewiston^ was excavated chiefly, but not entirely, in 
the superficial drift, and the old river-banks cut in 
this drift are still to be seen facing each other, on 
both sides of the ravine, for many miles below the 
Falls. A section of Goat Island from south to north, 
or parallel to the course of the Niagara (see 
fig. 2.), shows that the limestone (B) had been greatly 
denuded before the fluviatile beds (c) were accumu- 
lated, and consequently when the Falls were still 
several miles below their present site. From this 
fact I infer that the slope of the river at the rapids 
was principally due to the original shape of the old 
channel, and not, as some have conjectured, to modem 
erosions on the approach of the Falls to the spot. 

The observations made in 1841 induced me in the 
following year (June, 1842) to re-examine diligently 
both sides of the river from the Falls to Lewiston 
and Queenston, to ascertain if any other patches of 
the ancient river-bed had escaped destruction. Ac- 
cordingly, following first the edge of the cliffs on the 
eastern bank, I discovered, with no small delight, 
at the summer-house (E, fig. 3.), above the whirl- 
pool, a bed of stratified sand and gravel, forty feet 
thick, containing fluviatile shells in abundance. 
Fortunately, a few yards from the summer-house a 
pit had been recently dug for the cellar of a new 


house to the depth of nine feet in the shelly sand, in 
which I found shells of the genera Unio, CyclaSy 
Melaniay Helix, and Pupa, not only identical in 
species with those which occur in a fresh state in 
the bed of the Niagara, near the ferry, but corre- 

Fig. 3, 


^ ^^ ^^ 

, ^.r^~rrrT:r:':^y^:jr ^:_ .^^- 

/.'k-:-:.:/'^ ^ ^ 

•^::^'-£ -: -*= — .- 

A -^- 

^ ^ 


Section at the Summer-house above JFhirlpool, east bank qf Niagara. 

A. Thick-bedded limestone, same as at Falls. 

b. Ancient drift. 

c. Boulders at base of steep bank formed by drift. 

d. Fresh-water strata forty feet thick. 
E. Summer-house. 

sponding also in the proportionate number of indi- 
viduals belonging to each species, the valves of Cydas 
similis, for example, being the most numerous. The 
same year I found also a remnant of the old river- 
bed on the opposite or Canadian side of the river, 
about a mile and a half above the whirlpool, or two 
miles and a half below the Falls. These facts appear 
conclusive as to the former extension of a more 


elevated valley, four miles, at least, below the Falls ; 
and at this point the old-river bed must have been so 
high as to be capable of holding back the waters 
which covered all the patches of fluviatile sand and 
gravel, including that of Goat Island. As the table- 
land or limestone-platform rises gently to the north, 
and is highest near Queenston, there is no reason 
to suppose that there was a greater fall in the 
Niagara when it flowed at its higher level, than now 
between Lake Erie and the Falls ; and according to 
this view, the old channel might well have furnished 
the required barrier. 

I have stated that on the left, or Canadian bank of 
the Niagara, below the Falls, I succeeded in detecting 
sand with freshwater shells at one point only, near 
the mouth of the Muddy River. The ledge of lime- 
stone on this side is usually laid bare, or only covered 
by vegetable mould (as at e, fig. 1.), until we arrive 
at the boulder clay (^ fig. 1.), which is sometimes 
within a few yards of the top of the precipice, and 
sometimes again retires eighty yards or more from it, 
being from twenty to fifty feet in height. I also 
found an old river-bed running through the drift 
parallel to the Niagara, its course still marked by 
swamps and ponds, such as we find in all alluvial 
plains, and only remarkable here because the river 
now runs at a lower level by 300 feet. This de- 


serted channel occurs between the Muddy River and 
the Whirlpool, and is 100 yards broad. 

There is also a notch or indentation, called the 
*^ Devil's Hole," on the right or eastern side of the 
Niagara, half a mile below the Whirlpool, which 
deserves notice, for there, I think, there are signs of 
the Great Cataract having been once situated. A 
small streamlet, called the "Bloody Run," from a 
battle fought there with the Indians, joins the Niagara 
at this place, and has hollowed out a lateral chasm. 
Ascending the great rayme, we here see, facing us, a 
projecting cUff of limestone, which stands out forty 
feet beyond the general range of the river cliff below, 
and has its flat summit bare and without soil, just as if 
it had once formed the eastern side of the Great Fall. 

By exploring the banks of the Niagara above the 
Falls, I satisfied myself that if the river should 
continue to cut back the ravine still farther south- 
wards, it would leave here and there, near the verge 
of the precipice and on its islands, strata of sand and 
loam, with freshwater shells similar to those already 
described. I collected fossil shells, for example, on 
the left bank, near the Chippewa River, and learnt 
that others had been reached, in sinking a well, in 
1818, at the south-east end of Grand Island. The 
situation of such deposits is represented at a, a 
(fig. 4., p. 45.). 


The patches of fluvlatile strata^ therefore, occur- 
mg between the old banks of drift {f^f^ fig. 1. p. 37.) 
and the precipice, and not having been met with on 
other parts of the platform at a distance from the 
Niagara, confirm the theory, previously adopted on 
independent evidence, of the recession of the Falls 
\ from Queenston southwards. The narrowness of the 
gorge near Queenston, where it is just large enough 
to contain the I'apid current of water, accords well 
with the same hypothesis, and there is no ground for 
suspecting that the excavation was assisted by an 
original rent in the rocks, because there is no fissure 
at present in the limestone at the Falls, where the 
moving waters alone have power to cut their way 

I have already remarked that there will always be 
insuperable diflSculties in the way of estimating with 
precision the rate of the retrogression of the Falls in 
former ages, because at every step new strata have 
been successively exposed at the base of the precipice. 
According to their softer or harder nature, the un- 
dermining process must have been accelerated or re- 
tarded. This will be understood by reference to the 
annexed section (fig. 4.), where the line ^, c, d^ 
represents the present surface of the river along 
which the Falls have receded. The strata (1, 3 and 
7), are of soft materials; the others, (2, 4 an I 8), 


which slightly project at their termination in the 
escarpment, are of a more compact and refractory 
kind. It has been necessary to exaggerate the 
southward dip of the strata in this diagram, which is 
in reality so slight as to be insensible to the eye, 
being only, as before mentioned, about twenty-five 
feet in a mile, the river channel sloping in an opposite 
direction at the rate of fifteen feet in a mile. These 
two inclinations, taken together, have caused, as Mr. 
Hall has pointed out in his Survey, a diminution of 
forty feet in the perpendicular height of the Falls for 
every mile that they receded southward. By reference 
to the section, the reader will perceive that when 
they were situated at the Whirlpool (c), the quart- 
zose sand-stone (2), which is extremely hard, was at 
the base of the precipice, and here the Great Cataract 
may have remained nearly stationary for ages. 

In regard to the future retrocession of the Falls, 
it will be perceived by the same section (fig. 4.), that 
when they have travelled back two miles, or to i, h 
the massive limestone (8), now at the top of the 
Falls, will then be at their base ; and its great hard- 
ness may, perhaps, effectually stop the excavating 
process, if it should not have been previously arrested 
by the descent of large masses of the same rock from 
the cliff above. It will also appear that the Falls 
will continually diminish in height, and should they 




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ever reach Lake Erie, they will intersect entirely 
different strata from those over which they are now 

The next inquiry into which we are naturally led 
by our retrospect into the past history of this region, 
relates to the origin of the Falls. If they were once 
seven miles northward of their present site, in what 
manner, and at what geological period, did they first 
come into existence ? In tracing back the series of 
past events, we have already seen that the last change 
was the erosion of the great ravine ; previously to 
which occurred the deposition of the freshwater 
deposit, including fossil shells of recent species, and 
the bones of the Mastodon. Thirdly, of still older 
date was the drift or boulder formation which over- 
spreads the whole platform and the face of the 
escarpment near Queenston, as well as the low coun- 
try between it and Lake Ontario. Fourthly, the 
denudation of the line of cliff or escarpment, in 
which the table-land ends abruptly, preceded the 
origin of the drift. I shall endeavour to show, in a 
subsequent chapter, when speaking of Canada, that 
this drift was of marine origin, and formed when the 
whole country was submerged beneath the sea. In 
the region of the Niagara it is stratified, and though 
no fossils have as yet been detected in it, similar 
deposits occur in the valley of the St. Lawrence at origin of the falls. 47 

Montreal5 at a height nearly equal to Lake Erie^ 
where fossil shells, of species such as now inhabit the 
northern seas, lie buried in the drift. 

It is ahnost superfluous to aflirm that a con- 
sideration of the geology of the whole basin of the 
St. Lawrence and the great lakes can alone entitle 
us to speculate on the state of things which im- 
mediately preceded or accompanied the origin of the 
Great Cataract. To give even a brief sketch of the 
various phenomena to which our attention must be 
directed, in order to solve this curious problem, 
would require a digression of several chapters. At 
present the shortest and most intelligible way of 
explaining the results of my observations and re- 
flections on this subject will be to describe the 
successive changes in the order in which I imagine 
them to have happened. The first event then to 
which we must recur is the superficial waste or 
denudation of the older stratified rocks (from 1 to 
10 inclusive, section, fig. 4., p. 45.), all of which 
had remained nearly undisturbed and horizontal from 
the era of their formation beneath the sea to a 
comparatively modem period. That they were all of 
marine origin is proved by their imbedded corals 
and shells. They at length emerged slowly, and 
portions of their edges were removed by the action 
of the waves and currents, by which cliffs were 


formed at successive heights, especially where hard 
limestones (such as nos. 10 and 8, fig. 4.) at 
Blackrock and Lewiston, were incumbent on soft 
shales. After this denudation the whole region was 
again gradually submerged, and this event took place 
during the glacial period, at which time the surfaces 
of the rocks already denuded were smoothed, polished, 
and furrowed by glacial action, which operated suc- 
cessively at different levels. The country was then 
buried under a load of stratified and unstratified 
sand, gravel, and erratic blocks, occasionally 80, and 
in some hollows more than 300, feet deep. An old 
ravine terminating at St. David's, which intersects 
the limestone platform of the Niagara, and opens 
into the great escarpment, illustrates the posteriority 
of this drift to the epoch when the older rocks were 
denuded. The period of submergence last alluded 
to was very modern, for the shells then inhabiting 
the ocean belonged, almost without exception, to 
species still living in high northern, and some of 
them in temperate, latitudes. The next great change 
was the re-emergence of this country, consisting of 
the ancient denuded rocks, covered indiscriminately 
with modern marine drift. The upward movement 
by which this was accomplished was not sudden and 
instantaneous, but gradual and intermittent. The 
pauses by which it was interrupted are marked by 

Chap.H. OEIGIN of the FALLS. 49 

ancient beach-Knes, ridges, and terraces, found at 
different heights above the present lakes. These 
ridges and terraces are partly due to the denudation 
and re-arrangement of the materials of the drift 
itself, which had previously been deposited on the 
platform, the sloping face of the escarpments, and in 
the basins of the great lakes. 

As soon as the table-land between Lakes Erie 
and Ontario emerged and was laid dry, the river 
Niagara came into existence, the basin of Lake 
Ontario still continuing to form part of the sea. 
From that moment there was a' cascade at Queenston 
of moderate height, which fell directly into the sea. 
The uppermost limestone and subjacent slate (8 and 
7, fig. 4. p. 45.) being exposed, the cataract com- 
menced its retrograde course, while the lower beds 
in the escarpment (from 6 to 1) were still protected 
from waste by remaining submerged. A second 
fall would in due time be caused by the continued 
rise of the land and the exposure of the hard beds 
(6 and 4), constituting what is called the Clinton 
group, together with the soft and easily undermined 
red shale (3), on which they repose. Finally, a third 
cascade would in all likelihood be produced by the 
rise of another hard mass, the quartzose sandstone 
(2, fig. 4.) resting on very destructible red shale 
(1). Three falls, one above the other, very similar 


in their geological and geographical position to those 
actually seen on the river Genesee at Rochester, 
would thus be formed. The recession of the upper- 
most must have been gradually retarded by the 
thickening of the incumbent limestone (No. 8, fig. 4), 
in proportion as the Falls sawed their way southwards. 
By this means the second cataract, which would 
not suffer the same retardation, might overtake it, 
and the two united would then be retarded by the 
large quantity of rock to be removed, until the 
lowest fall would come up to them, and then the 
whole would be united into one. 

The principal events enumerated in the above 
retrospect, comprising the submergence and re-emer- 
gence of the Canadian lake district and valley of the 
St. Lawrence, the deposition of freshwater strata, 
and the gradual erosion of a ravine seven miles long, 
are all so modem in the earth's history as to belong 
to a period when the marine, the fluviatile, and 
terrestrial shells, were the same, or nearly the same, 
as those now living. Yet if we fix our thoughts 
on any one portion of this period — on the lapse 
of time, for example, required for the recession of 
the Niagara from the escarpment to the Falls, — 
how immeasurably great will its duration appear 
in comparison with the sum of years to which the 
annals of the human race are limited! Had we 


happened to discover strata, charged with fluvlatile 
shells of recent species, and enclosing the bones and 
teeth of a Mastodon, near a river at the bottom of 
some valley, we might naturally have inferred that 
the buried quadruped had perished at an era long 
after the canoes of the Indian hunter had navigated 
the North American waters. Such an inference 
might easily have been drawn respecting the fossil 
tusk of the great elephantine quadruped, which I 
saw taken out of the shell-marl on the banks of the 
Genesee River near Rochester (see p. 23.). But 
fortunately on the Niagara, we may turn to the 
deep ravine, and behold therein a chronometer 
measuring rudely, yet emphatically, the vast magni- 
tude of the interval of years, which separate the 
present time from the epoch when the Niagara 
flowed at a higher level several miles further north 
across the platform. We then become conscious 
how far the two events before confounded together, 
— the entombment of the Mastodon, and the date of 
the first peopling of the earth by man, — may recede 
to distances almost indefinitely remote from each 

But, however much we may enlarge our ideas of 
the time which has elapsed since the Niagara first 
began to drain the waters of the upper lakes, we have 
seen that this period was one only of a series, all be- 

D 2 

52 KEIXECnOJfS ox the Chap. II. 

longiiig to the present zoological epoch ; or that in 
which the liTing testaceom fauna, whether freshwater 
or marine, had alreadj oune into being. If sach 
CTenta can take place while the zoology of the earth 
remains almost stationary and unaltered, what ages 
may not be comprehended in those sncceseiTe tertiary 
periods daring which the Flora and Fanna of the 
globe hare been almost entirely changed. Yet how 
subordinate a place in the long calendar of geological 
chronology do the successire tertiary periods them- 
selres occupy ! How much more enormous a dura- 
tion must we assign to many antecedent revolutions 
of the earth and its inhabitants ! Xo analogrv can be 
found in the natural world to the inunense scale of 
these divisions of past time, unless we contemplate 
the celestial spaces which have been measured by 
the astronomer. Some of the nearest of these within 
the limits of the solar system, as, for example, the 
orbits of the planets, are reckoned by hundreds of 
millions of miles, which the imagination in vain en- 
deavours to grasp. Yet one of these spaces, such as 
the diameter of the earth's orbit, is regarded as a 
mere unit, a mere infinitesimal fraction of the dis- 
tance which separates our sun from the nearest star. 
By pursuing still farther the same investigations, we 
learn that there are luminous clouds, scarcely dis- 
tinguishable by the naked eye, but resolvable by the 


telescope into clusters of stars, which are so much 
more remote, that the interval between our sun and 
Sirius may be but a fraction of this larger distance. 
To regions of space of this higher order in point of 
magnitude, we may probably compare such an inter- 
val of time as that which divides the human epoch 
from the origin of the coralline limestone over which 
the Niagara is precipitated at the Falls. Many have 
been the successive revolutions in organic life, and 
many the vicissitudes in the physical geography of 
the globe, and often has sea been converted into land, 
and land into sea, since that rock was formed. The 
Alps, the Pyrenees, the Himalaya, have not only be- 
gun to exist as lofty mountain chains, but the solid 
materials of which they are composed have been 

slowly elaborated beneath the sea within the stu- 
pendous interval of ages here alluded to. 

The geologist may muse and speculate on these 
events until, filled with awe and admiration, he for- 
gets the presence of the mighty cataract itself, and 
no longer sees the rapid motion of its waters, nor 
hears their sound, as they fall into the deep abyss. 
But whenever his thoughts are recalled to the pre- 
sent, the tone of his mind, — the sensations awakened in 
his soul, will be found to be in perfect harmony with 
the grandeur and beauty of the glorious scene which 
surrounds him. 

D 3 



Tour from the Niagara to the Northern Frontier of Pennsylvania. 
— Ancient Grypsiferous Formation of New York. — Fossil 
Mastodon at Geneseo, — Scenery, — Sudden Growth of New 
Towns, — Coal of Blossberg, and resemblance to British Coal 
Afeasures. — Stigmaria, — Humming Birds, — NoTnenclature 
of Places* — Helderherg Mountains and Fossils, — Refractory 
Tenants, — Travelling in the States. — Politeness to Women. — 
Canal'boat. — Domestic Service. — Progress of Civilisation. — 
Philadelphia. — Fire-engines, 

Sept. 2. 1841. — From Niagara Falls we travelled to 
the large town of Buffalo, on the shores of Lake 
Erie, and then passed through Williamsville, Le Roy, 
and Geneseo, in the State of New York. The hori- 
zontal Silurian rocks of this region are in general 
extremely like those of corresponding age in Europe, 
consisting of mud-stones and limestone, with similar 
corals and shells. But there is one remarkable ex- 
ception; — the occurrence in the middle of the series 
of a formation of red, green, and bluish grey marls 
with beds of gypsum, and occasional salt-springs, the 
whole being from 800 to 1,000 feet thick, and undis- 
tinguishable in mineral character from parts of the 
Upper New Red or Trias of Europe. Near Le Roy 
I saw these marls and the gypsmn exposed to view in 
quarries. In the overlying limestone at Williams- 
ville were large masses of corals, of the genera 


FavositeSy Cystiphyllumy and others, in the position in 
which they grew. Some of the species agree with 
British fossils, but the greater part of them, as I may 
state on the authority of Mr. Lonsdale, who has 
studied my specimens, are distinct. 

When at the village of Geneseo, I learnt that ten 
years before, the bones of a Mastodon had been ob- 
t^ed from a bog in the neighbourhood, and I was 
desirous of knowing whether any shells accompanied 
the bones, and whether they were of recent species. 
]VIr. Hall and I therefore procured workmen, who were 
soon joined by several amateurs of Geneseo, and a pit 
was dug to the depth of about five feet from the sur- 
face. Here we came down upon a bed of white shell- 
marl and sand, in which lay portions of the skull, 
ivory tusk, and vertebrae, of the extinct quadruped. 
The shells proved to be all of existing freshwater and 
land species now common in this district. I had 
been told that the Mastodon's teeth were taken out of 
mucky or the black superfcial peaty earth of this bog. 
I was therefore glad to ascertain that it was really 
buried in the shell-marl below the peat, and therefore 
agreed in situation with the large fossil elks of Ire- 
land, which, though often said to occur in peat, are 
in fact met with in subjacent beds of marl. 

At the Falls of Le Roy, and at the Upper Falls of 
the Kiver Genesee at Portage, I had opportunities of 

D 4 


observing how both of these cascades have been cut- 
ting their way backwards through the Silurian rocks, 
even within the memory of the present settlers. 
They have each hollowed out a deep ravine with 
perpendicular sides, bearing the same proportion in 
volume to the body of water flowing through them 
which the great ravine of the Niagara does to that 

Mr. Hall took leave of us at Geneseo, after which 
I set out on a tour to examine the series of rocks be- 
tween the upper Silurian strata of the State of New 
York and the Coal of Pennsylvania. With this view 
I took the direction of Blossberg, where the most 
northern coal mines of the United States are worked. 

On this occasion we left the main road, and en- 
tered, for the first time, an American stage-coach, 
having been warned not to raise our expectations too 
high in regard to the ease or speed of our conveyance. 
Accordingly, we found that after much fatigue, we 
had only accomplished a journey of 46 miles in 
12 hours, between Geneseo and Dansville. We had 
four horses ; and when I complained at one of the 
inns that our coachman seemed to take pleasure in 
driving rapidly over deep ruts and the roughest 
ground, it was explained to me that this was the first 
time in his life he had ever attempted to drive any 
vehicle, whether two or four-wheeled. The coolness 


and confidence with which every one here is ready to 
try his hand at any craft is truly amusing. A few 
days afterwards I engaged a young man to drive me 
in a gig from Tioga to Blossberg. On the way, he 
pointed out, first, his father's property, and then a 
farm of his own, which he had lately purchased. As 
he was not yet twenty years of age, I expressed sur- 
prise that he had got on so well in the world, when 
he told me that he had been editor of the " Tioga 
Democrat " for several years, but had now sold his 
share of the newspaper. 

In the region between Lake Erie and the borders 
of Pennsylvania, as well as in that immediately south 
of Lake Ontario, there is an entire want of fine 
scenery, as might have been anticipated where all the 
strata are horizontal. The monotony of the endless 
forest is sometimes relieved by a steep escarpment, a 
river with wooded islands, or a lake ; but the only 
striking features in the landscape are the waterfalls, 
and the deep chasms hollowed out by them in the 
course of ages. As the opposite banks of these 
ravines are on the same level, including that of the 
Niagara itself, we come abruptly to their edges before 
we have any suspicion of their existence, and we must 
travel out of our way to enjoy a sight of them. 

At length we reached the water-shed, where the 
streams flow, on the one side, northwards to Lake 

D 5 


Erie, and on the other, southwards, to the Susque- 
hanna. I began to wonder how the Indians ever 
obtained any correct notions of topography in so con- 
tinuous a forest, all the smaller rivers, with their 
islands, being embowered and choked up with trees. 
I soon ceased to repine at the havoc that was going 
on in the fine timber which bounded our road on 
every side. 

After traversing successive zones of the Upper 
Silurian strata, I at length entered at Bath upon the 
olive-coloured slates and grey sandstone, which seem 
to be the equivalent of the lower part of the Old 
Ked, or Devonian of England. In this rock some 
streaks of carbonaceous matter, which soon thin out, 
and are rarely three inches thick, are met with. I 
found a proprietor on Spalding's Creek preparing to 
sink a costly shaft for coal, and I earnestly dissuaded 
him from his project, referring him to the New York 
survey. Every scientific man who discourages a 
favourite mining scheme must make up his mind to 
be as ill received as the physician who gives an honest 
opinion that his patient's disorder is incurable. 

After the Olive Slate, I came to an incumbent 
formation of red sandstone near Tioga, and collected 
fish of two species of Holoptichius^ one apparently 
identical with H. nobilissimus, a fossil of the British 
Old Red, and another which, I learn from Sir Philip 


Egerton, belongs to an entirely new type of this 
genus. With these were a species of Chelonicthys 
of large dimensions, a form also very characteristic 
of the same formation both in Kussia and Scotland. 

Sept. 5. — At Bath I hired a private carriage for 
Coming. Although there are two railways here 
with locomotive engines, one leading to the south, 
the other for conveying the coal of Blossberg to the 
Erie canal, I looked in vain for the name of Corning 
in a newly-published map, and was informed that the 
town was only two years old. Already the school- 
house was finished, the spire of the Methodist church 
nearly complete, the Presbyterian one in the course 
of building, the site of the Episcopalian decided on. 
Wishing to have a carriage, I was taken to a large 
livery stable, where there were several vehicles and 
good horses. The stumps of trees, some six feet 
high, are still standing in the gardens and between 
the houses. Our innkeeper remarked that the cost 
of uprooting them would be nearly equal to that of 
erecting a log-house on the same place. I amused 
myself by counting the rings of annual growth in 
these trees, and found that some had been only forty 
years old when cut down, yet when these began to 
grow, no white man had approached within many 
leagues of this valley; most of the older stumps 
went back no farther than two centuries, or to the 

D 6 


landing of the pilgrim fathers, some few to the time 
of Sir Walter Raleigh, and scarcely one to the days 
of Columbus. I had before remarked that very 
ancient trees seemed uncommon in the aboriginal 
forests of this part of America. They are usually 
tall and straight, with no grass growing under their 
dark shade, although the green herbage soon springs 
up when the wood is removed and the sun's rays 
allowed to penetrate. Some of the stumps, espe- 
cially those of the fir tribe, take fifty years to rot 
away, though exposed in the air to alternations of 
rain and sunshine, a fact on which every geologist 
will do well to reflect, for it is clear that the trees of 
a forest submerged beneath the waters, or still more, 
if entirely excluded from air, by becoming imbedded 
in sediment, may endure for centuries without decay, 
so that there may have been ample time for the slow 
petrifaction of erect fossil trees in the Carboniferous 
and other formations, or for the slow accumulation 
around them of a great succession of strata, 

I asked the landlord of the inn at Coming, who 
was very attentive to his guests, to find my coach- 
man. He immediately called out in his bar-room, 
" Where is the gentleman that brought this man 
here ? " A few days before, a farmer in New York 
had styled my wife " the woman," though he called 
his own daughters ladies, and would, I believe, have 


freely extended that title to their maid-servant. I 
was told of a witness in a late trial at Boston, who 
stated in evidence that " while he and another gentle- 
man were shovelling up mud," &c. ; from which it 
appears that the spirit of social equality has left no 
other signification to the terms ^^ gentleman" and 
" lady " but that of " male and female individual." 

Sept. 7. Blossherg.-- I had now entered Pennsyl- 
vania, and reached one of the extreme north-eastern 
outliers of the great Appalachian coal-field, as Pro- 
fessor Rogers has termed the Coal-measures of Penn- 
sylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. It was the first time 
I had seen the true " Coal " in America, and I was 
much struck with its surprising analogy in mineral 
and fossil characters to that of Europe — the same 
white grits or sandstones as are used for building 
near Edinburgh and Newcastle — similar black shales, 
often bituminous, with the leaVies of ferns spread out 
as in an herbariima, the species being for the most 
part identical with British fossil plants — seams of 
good bituminous coal, some a few inches, others 
several yards in thickness — beds and nodules of 
clay iron-stone; and the whole series resting on a 
coarse grit and conglomerate, containing quartz 
pebbles, very like our Millstone Grit, and often called 
by the American as well as the English miners the 
" Farewell Rock," because when they have reached 


it in their borings, they take leave of all valuable 
fuel. Beneath this grit are those red and grey 
sandstones already alluded to as corresponding in 
mineral character, fossils, and position, with our ^^ Old 

I was desirous of ascertaining whether a general- 
isation recently made by Mr. Logan in South 
Wales could hold good in this country. Each of 
the Welsh seams of coal, more than ninety in 
number, have been found to rest on a sandy clay 
or firestone, in which a peculiar species of plant 
called Stigmaria abounds, to the exclusion of all 
others. I saw the Stigmaria at Blossberg, lying in 
abundance in the heaps of rubbish where coal had 
been extracted from a horizontal seam. Dr. Say- 
nisch, president of the mine, kindly lighted up the 
gallery that I might inspect the works, and we saw 
the black shales in the roof, adorned with beautiful 
fern leaves, while the floor consisted of an under- 
clay, in which the stems of Stigmaria^ with their 
leaves or rootlets attached, were running in all 
directions. The agreement of these phenomena with 
those of the Welsh Coal-measures, 3000 miles dis- 
tant, surprised me, and lead to conclusions respecting 
the origin of coal from plants not drifted, but growing 
on the spot, to which I shall refer in the sequel. 

Dr. Saynisch, who was the first to explore the 


coal in this region^ told me that, soon after he 

settled here, he shot a wolf out of his bedroom 

window. These animals still commit havock on the 

flocks, and last autumn a large panther was killed 

in the outskirts of Blossberg, but the bears have 

not been seen for several years. We rode in a hot 

sunny day to a large clearing in the forest far from 

any habitation, and I was struck with the perfect 

silence of the surrounding woods. We heard no 

call or note of any bird, nothing to remind us of 

the chirping of the chaffinch or autumnal song of 

our robin, the grasshoppers and crickets alone 

keeping up a ceaseless din day and night. The 

birds here are very abundant, and some are adorned 

with brilliant plumage, as the large woodpecker, 

with its crimson head, — the yellow-bird (^Fringilla 

tristis)y of the size of a yellow-hammer, with black 

wings and a bright yellow body, — the red-bird 

( Tanagra rubra), — and the Loxia ludovisiana. 

A hen humming-bird, far less brilliant in its 
plumage than the male, flew within a few inches 
of my face. Its flight and diminutive size reminded 
me of our humming sphinx, on hawk-moth, like 
which it remains poised in the air while sucking 
the flowers, the body seeming motionless, and the 
wings being invisible from the swiftness of their 
vibrations. I had before seen one in the wood at 


Cedarville, sucking the flower of a wild balsam 
(^Impatiens hiftord). Dr. Saynisch tells me that on 
his first visit to these woods, he has known two of 
these birds at a time perch on the edge of a cup of 
water which he held in his hand, and drink without 
fear. I was aware from Mr. Darwin's Voyage in 
the Beagle, that in islands like the Galapagos, 
" Where human foot hath ne'er or rarely been," 
the wild birds have no apprehension of danger from 
man; but here, where for ages the Indian hunters 
preceded the whites, I am surprised to learn that an 
instinctive dread of the great ^* usurper " had not 
become hereditary in the feathered tribe. I was told, 
however, that in the hunting grounds called Indian 
Reservations, within the limits of the settled and 
civilised states, of which we passed one in New 
York, the wild animals are comparatively tame, it 
being a system of the Indians never to molest the 
game or their prey, except when required for food. 

We returned from Blossberg by the town of 
Jefferson, and, sailing down Seneca Lake in a steam- 
boat to Geneva, joined the railway, which carried 
us back again to Albany. At one of the stations 
where the train stopped we overheard some young 
women from Ohio exclaim, "Well, we are in a 
pretty fix!" and found their dilemma to be charac- 
teristic of the financial crisis of these times, for 


none of their dollar notes of the Ohio banks would 
pass here. The substantive "fix" is an acknow- 
ledged vulgarism, but the verb is used in New 
England by well educated people, in the sense of the 
French "arranger" or the English "do." To fix 
the hair, the table, the fire, means to dress the hair, 
lay the table, and make up the fire ; and this appli- 
cation is, I presume, of Hibernian origin, as an Irish 
gentleman. King Comey, in Miss Edgeworth's tale 
of Ormond, says, " I'll fix him and his wounds." 

There are scarcely any American idioms or words 
which are not of British origin, some obsolete, others 
provincial. When the lexicographer, Noah Webster, 
whom I saw at Newhaven, was asked how many 
new words he had coined, he replied one only ^^ to 
demoralize," and that not for his dictionary, but 
long before, in a pamphlet published in the last 

The nomenclature of the places passed through 
in our short excursion of one month was strange 
enough. We had been at Syracuse, Utica, Rome, 
and Parma, had gone from Buffalo to Batavia, and 
on the same day breakfasted at St. Helena, and 
dined at Elba. We collected fossils at Moscow, and 
travelled by Painted Post and Big Flats to Havanna. 
After returning by Auburn to Albany I was taken 
to Troy, a city of 20,000 inhabitants, that I might 


see a curious landslip which had just happened on 
Mount Olympus, the western side of that hill, 
together with a contiguous portion of Mount Ida, 
haying slid down into the Hudson, and caused the 
death of several persons. Fortunately, some few 
of the Indian names, such as Mohawk, Ontario, 
Oneida, Canandaigua, and Niagara, are retained. 
Although legislative interference in behalf of good 
taste would not be justifiable. Congress might inter- 
pose for the sake of the post-office, and prevent the 
future multiplication of the same names for villages, 
cities, counties, and townships. That more than a 
hundred places should be called Washington is an 
intolerable nuisance. An Englishman, it is true, 
cannot complain, for we follow the same system in 
our colonies ; and it is high time that the post-master- 
general brought in a bill for prohibiting new streets 
in London from receiving names already appropriated 
and repeated ffty times in that same city, to the 
infinite confusion of the inhabitants and their letter- 

At Troy I visited Professor Eaton, who published 
in 1824, in his « Survey of the Erie Canal," the 
earliest account of the Niagara district, dividing the 
rocks into groups, nearly all of which have been 
since adopted by the New York surveyors. The 
mind of this pioneer in American geology was still 


in full activity, and his zeal unabated; but a few 
months after my visit he died at an advanced age. 

I next examined, in company with Mr. Hall, two 
swamps, situated in Albany and Greene counties, 
west of the Hudson river, where the remains of a 
Mastodon occurred, in both places at the depth of 
four or five feet, in sheU'^marl, with recent species of 
shells. These deposits of marl covered with peat are 
newer than the boulder formation, and cattle have 
very lately been mh-ed in the same bogs. In similar 
situations in Scotland and England we find only the 
remains of existing mammalia ; and ^though on the 
banks of the Thames and elsewhere we discover the 
bones of the extinct elephant and rhinoceros as- 
sociated with recent land and freshwater shells (min- 
gled, however, with some few exotic species), the 
strata in which they lie do not belong precisely, like 
those in New York, to the most modem geographical 
condition of the country. 

We then made a tour to the Helderberg Moun- 
tains, S. W. of Albany, to see the Upper Silurian 
strata and to study their fossils in the museum of Mr. 
Gebhard at Schoharie. The depth of the valleys, 
and some precipitous cliffs of limestone, render this 
region more picturesque than is usual where the 
strata are undisturbed. I rejoiced to see the sugar- 
maple (Acer saccharinus), an ornamental tree, spared 


in the new clearings. The sap from which sugar is 
made was everywhere tricklmg down into wooden 
troughs from gashes made in the bark. The red 
maples were now beginning to assume their bright 
autumnal tints, but the rest of the forest was as 
verdant as ever; a blue Lobelia, which we had 
gathered at the Falls of Niagara, was still in bloom, 
together with many white and blue asters which had 
only just come out. The most elegant flower in the 
woods at this season is the fnnged gentian ( Gentiam 

" Bright with Autumn dew, 

And coloured with the Heaven's own blue." 

One day at Schoharie, a hawk pounced down from 
a lofty tree, and seized a striped squirrel on the 
ground, within three yards of our party. It was 
bearing off its burden with ease, until, alarmed by 
our shouts, it dropped the squirrel, which ran off 
apparently unhurt. I observed early in the morning 
myriads of cobwebs extending from one blade of grass 
to another, as we often see them on an English lawn 
before the dew is dried up. 

On our way back from Schoharie to Albany, we 
found the country people in a ferment, a sheriff's 
officer having been seriously wounded when in the 
act of distraining for rent, this being the third year 
of the ^^ Helderberg war," or a successful resistance 


by an armed tenantry to the legal demands of their 
landlord^ Mr. Van Kenssalaer. It appears that a 
large amount of territory on both sides of the river 
Hudson^ now supporting, according to some es- 
timates, a population of 100,000 souls, had long been 
held in fee by the Van Kenssalaer family, the 
tenants paying a small ground rent. This system 
of things is regarded by many as not only in- 
jurious, because it imposes grievous restraints upon 
alienation, but as unconstitutional, or contrary to the 
genius of their political institutions, and tending 
to create a sort of feudal perpetuity. Some of the 
leases have already been turned into fees, but many 
of the tenants were unable or unwilling to pay 
the prices asked for such conveyances, and de- 
clared that they had paid rent long enough, and 
that it was high time that they should be owners of 
the land. 

A few years ago, when the estates descended from 
the late General Van Renssalaer to his sons, the 
attempt to enforce the landlord's rights met with 
open opposition. The courts of law gave judgment, 
and the sheriff of Albany having failed to execute 
his process, at length took military force in 1839, 
but with no better success. The governor of New 
York was then compelled to back him with the mili- 
tary array of the state, about 700 men, who began 


the campaign at a da^rs notice in a severe snow 
fftonn. The tenants are said to have mustered 
against them loOO strong, and the rents were still 
nnpaid« when in the following year, 1840, the 
governor, courting popolarity as it should seem, while 
condemning the recusants in his message, virtually 
encouraged them by recommending their case to the 
favourable consideration o( the state, hinting at the 
same time at legislative remedies. The l^islature, 
however, to their credit, refused to enact these, 
leaving the case to the ordinary courts of law. 

The whole affidr is curious, as demonstrating the 
impossibility of creating at present in this country a 
class of landed proprietors deriving their income from 
the letting of lands upon lease. Every man must 
occupy his own acres. He who has capital enough 
to stock a farm can obtain land of his own so cheap 
as naturally to prefer being his own landlord. 

Sept 27. 1841. — We embarked once more on the 
Hudson, to sail from Albany to New York, with 
several hundred passengers on board, and thought 
the scenery more beautiful than ever. The steam- 
boat is a great floating hotel, of which the captain is 
landlord. He presides at meals, taking care that no 
gentlemen take their places at table till all the ladies, 
or, as we should say in England, the women of every 
class, are first seated. The men, by whom they are 


accompanied, are then invited to join them, after 
which, at the sound of a bell, the bachelors and mar- 
ried men travelling en jargon pour into the saloon, in 
much the same style as members of the House of 
Commons rush into the Upper House to hear a speech 
from the throne. 

One of the first peculiarities that must strike a 
foreigner in the United States is the deference paid 
universally to the sex, without regard to station. 
Women may travel alone here in stage-coaches, 
steam-boats, and railways, with less risk of encounter* 
ing disagreeable behaviour, and of hearing coarse and 
unpleasant conversation, than in any country I have 
ever visited. The contrast in this respect between the 
Americans and the French is quite remarkable. There 
is a spirit of true gallantry in all this, but the pub- 
licity of the railway car, where all are in one long 
room, and of the large ordinaries, whether on land or 
water, is a great protection, the want of which has 
been felt by many a female traveller without escort 
in England. As the Americans address no conver- 
sation to strangers, we soon became tolerably recon- 
ciled to living so much in public. Our fellow- 
passengers consisted for the most part of shopkeepers, 
artizans, and mechanics, with their families, all well- 
dressed, and so far as we had intercourse with them, 
polite and desirous to please. A large part of them 

72 CANAL-BOAT. Chap. III. 

were on pleasure excursions, in which they delight 
to spend their spare cash. 

On one or two occasions during our late tour in 
the newly-settled districts of New York, it was inti- 
mated to us that we were expected to sit down to 
dinner with our driver, usually the son or brother of 
the farmer who owned our vehicle. We were in- 
variably struck with the propriety of their manners, 
In which there was self-respect without forwardness. 
The only disagreeable adventure in the way of coming 
into close contact with low and coarse companions, 
arose from my taking places in a cheap canal-boat 
near Lockport, partly filled with emigrants, and 
corresponding somewhat in the rank of its passen- 
gers with a third-class railway-carriage in England. 
" Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galore ? " 
would have been a difficult question for me to answer, 
especially as I afterwards learnt that I might have 
hired a good private carriage at the very place where 
I embarked. This convenience indeed, although 
there is no posting, I invariably found at my com- 
mand in all the states of the Union, both northern 
and southern, which I visited during my stay in 

Travellers must make up their minds, in this as in 
other countries, to fall in now and then with free and 
easy people. I am bound, however, to say that in 


the two most glaring instances of vulgar familiarity 
which we have experienced here, we found out that 
both the offenders had crossed the Atlantic only ten 
years before, and had risen rapidly from a humble 
station. Whatever good breeding exists here in the 
middle classes is certainly not of foreign importation ; 
and John Bull, in particular, when out of humour 
with the manners of the Americans, is often uncon- 
sciously beholding his own image in the mirror, or 
comparing one class of society in the United States 
with another in his own country, which ought, from 
superior affluence and leisure, to exhibit a higher 
standard of refinement and intelligence. 

We have now seen the two largest cities, many 
towns and villages, besides some of the back settle- 
ments of New York and the New England States ; an 
exemplification, I am told, of a population amounting 
to about five millions of souls. We have met with 
no beggars, witnessed no signs of want, but every- 
where the most unequivocal proofs of prosperity and 
rapid progress in agriculture, commerce, and great 
public works. As these states are, some of them, en- 
tirely free from debt, and the rest have punctually 
paid the interest of Government loans, it would be 
most unjust to apply to them the disparaging com- 
ment *^that it is easy to go ahead with borrowed 
money." In spite of the constant influx of uneducated 



and pcnnyless adventurers from Europe, I believe it 
would be impossible to find five millions in any other 
region of the globe whose average moral, social, 
and intellectual condition stands so high. One con- 
vincing evidence of their well-being has not, I think, 
been sufficiently dwelt upon by foreigners : I allude 
to the difficulty of obtaining and retaining young 
American men and women for a series of years in 
domestic service, an occupation by no means con- 
sidered as degrading here, for they are highly paid, 
and treated almost as equals. But so long as they 
enjoy such facilities of bettering their condition, and 
can marry early, they will naturally renounce this 
bondage as soon as possible. That the few, or the 
opulent class, especially those resident in country 
places, should be put to great inconvenience by this 
circumstance, is unavoidable, and we must therefore 
be on our guard, when endeavouring to estimate the 
happiness of the many, not to sympathise too much 
with this minority. 

I am also aware that the blessing alluded to, and 
many others which they enjoy, belong to a pro- 
gressive, as contrasted with a stationary, state of 
society ; — that they characterize the new colony, 
where there is abundance of unoccupied land, and 
a ready outlet to a redundant labouring class. 
They are not the results of a democratic, as 


compared with a monarchical or aristocratic con- 
stitution^ nor the fruits of an absolute equality 
of religious sects, still less of universal suffrage. 
Nevertheless, we must not forget how easily all 
the geographical advantages arising from climate, 
soil, fine navigable rivers, splendid harbours, and a 
wildei^iess in the far West, might have been marred 
by other laws, and other political institutions. Had 
Spain colonized this region, how different would 
have been her career of civilisation I Had the 
puritan fathers landed on the banks of the Plata, 
how many hundreds of large steamers would ere 
this have been plying the Parand and Uruguay, — 
how many railway- trains flying over the Pampas, 
— how many large schools and universities flourishing 
in Paraguay ! 

Sept. 28. — We next went by railway from New 
York to Philadelphia through the state of New 
Jersey. Large fields of maize, without the stumps 
of trees rising above the com, and villas with neat 
flower-gardens, seemed a novelty to us after the eye 
had dwelt for so many hundreds of miles on native 
forests and new clearings. The streets of Phila- 
delphia rival the finest Dutch towns in cleanliness, 
and the beautiful avenues of various kinds of trees 
afford a most welcome shade in summer. We were 
five days here, and every night there was an alarm 

E 2 

76 FIRE-ENGINES. Chap. Ul 

of fire, usually a false one ; but the noise of the fire- 
men was tremendous. At the head of the procession 
came a runner blowing a horn with a deep unearthly 
sound, next a long team of men (for no horses are 
employed) drawing a strong rope to which the pon- 
derous engine was attached with a large bell at the 
top, ringing all the way ; next followed a mob^ some 
with torches, others shouting loudly ; and before they 
were half out of hearing, another engine follows with 
a like escort ; the whole affair resembling a scene in 
Der Freischutz or Robert le Diable, rather than an 
act in real life. It is, however, no sharriy for these 
young men are ready to risk their lives in extin- 
guishing a fire ; and as an apology for their disturbing 
the peace of the city when there was no cause, we 
were told " that the youth here require excitement ! " 
They manage these matters as effectively at Boston 
without turmoil. 



Excursion to New Jersey. — Cretaceous rocks compared to 
European, — General analogy of fossils^ and distinctness of 
species, — Tour to the Anthracite region of the AUeghanies in 
Pennsylvania, — Long parallel ridges and valleys of these 
mountains. — Pottsville. — Absence of smoke. — Fossil plants 
same as in bituminous coal. — Stigmarice. — Chreat thickness of 
strata. — Origin of Anthracite. — Vast area of the Appalachian 
coal-field. — Progressive debiiuminization of coed from west to 
east. — General remarks on the different groups of rocks between 
the Atlantic and the Mississippi. — Law of structure of the 
Appalachian chain discovered by the Professors Rogers. — 
Increased folding and dislocation of strata on the south-eastern 
flank of the Appalachians. — Theory of the origin of this 
mountain chain. 

Cretaceous Strata of New Jersey. 

Sept 30. 1841. — ^From Philadelphia I made a geo- 
logical excursion of several days, to examine the 
cretaceous strata of New Jersey, in company with 
Mr. Conrad, to whom we are indebted for several va- 
luable works on the fossil shells of the tertiary, cre- 
taceous, and Silurian strata of the United States. 
We went first to Bristol on the Delaware to visit Mr. 
Vanuxem, then engaged in preparing for publication 
his portion of the State Survey of New York ; next by 
Bordentown to New Egypt, and returned by the 
Timber Creek, recrossing the Delaware at Camden. 

s 8 


Although in this part of New Jersey there is no 
white chalk with flints^ so characteristic of rocks of 
this age in Europe^ it is still impossible to glance at 
the fossils^ and not to be convinced that Dr. Morton 
was right in referring in 1834 the New Jersey de- 
posits to the European cretaceous era. He and Mr. 
Conrad remarked that the American species of shells 
were nearly all new, or distinct firom those before de- 
scribed, and yet very analogous to those of cretaceous 
strata already known. The New Jersey rocks have 
been separated into five subdivisions, but of these 
two only have proved sufficiently rich in organic 
remains to admit of their being compared with corre- 
sponding strata in distant regions. The lower of these 
consists in great part of green sand and green marl, 
and was supposed by Dr. Morton to be the equivalent 
of the English " Green sand ;" while an upper or cal- 
careous rock, composed chiefly of a soft straw-coloured 
limestone with corals, was thought to correspond with 
the white chalk of Europe. But after carefully com- 
paring my collection, comprising about 60 species of 
shells, besides many corals and other remains, I have 
arrived at the conclusion that the whole of the New 
Jersey series agrees in its chronological relations with 
the European white chalk, or, to speak more precisely, 
with the formations ranging from the Gault to the 
Maestricht beds inclusive. Among the shells, in de- 

Chap. IV. OP NEW JERSEY. 79 

termining which I have been assisted by Professor 
E. Forbes, not more than four out of sixty seem to 
be quite identical with European species. These are 
Belemnites mucronatuSy Pecten quinquecostatuSy Ostrea 
falcata ( O. larva, Goldfuss), and O. vesicularis. Seve- 
ral others , however, approach very near to, and may 
be the same as European shells, as for example Tri- 
gonia thoracica, and at least fifteen may be regarded 
as good geographical representatives of well-known 
chalk fossils, belonging, for the most part, to beds 
above the Gault in Europe. There are a few very 
peculiar forms among the American testacca, such as 
Terebratula Saip.i (Morton). 

In the upper or straw-coloured limestone, I found, 
on the banks of the Timber Creek, twelve miles south- 
east of Philadelphia, six species of corals and several 
echinoderms, chiefly allied to Upper Cretaceous forms. 
The same calcareous stratum also abounds in forami- 
nifera, characteristic of the chalk, comprising, among 
others, the genera Cristellaria, Rotalina, and Nodo- 
saria. Mr. Owen has recognised, in the fossil reptiles 
from New Jersey, not only the vertebraj of Mosasau- 
rus, previously noticed by Dr. Morton, but also the 
Pliosaurus, and a large crocodile of the Procoelian di- 
vision, or having its vertebrae like the living species, 
with the anterior surface concave. There are also 
many fish of the shark family, analogous to those of 

E 4 


the English chalky and the Galeus pristodontus is 
represented by a species very closely allied^ if not 

Upon the whole, the list of genera, and the forms 
of the species, are remarkably analogous to the creta- 
ceous group of Europe ; and the agreement of four 
or five species of MoUusca, being in the proportion of 
about seven in the hundred, implies no inconsiderable 
amount of aflSnity at a distance of between 3000 and 
4000 miles from the corresponding assemblage of 
fossils in Central and Northern Europe, especially 
when we recollect that there is a difference in latitude 
of more than ten degrees between the two districts 
compared. Some of the species common to the op- 
posite sides of the Atlantic, are those which in Europe 
have the greatest vertical range, as Pecten quinquecos- 
tatusy and which might therefore be expected to recur 
in distant parts of the globe. 

At the same time we learn from the facts above 
mentioned, that the marine fauna, whether vertebrate 
or invertebrate, testaceous or zoophytic, was divided 
at the remote epoch under consideration, as it is now, 
into distinct geographical provinces, although the 
geologist may everywhere recognise the cretaceous 
type, whether in Europe or America, and I might 
add, India. This peculiar type exhibits the prepon- 
derating influence of a vast combination of circum- 


stances, prevailing at one period throughout the 
globe — circumstances dependent on the state of the 
physical geography, climate, and the organic world 
in the period immediately preceding, together with a 
variety of other conditions too long to enumerate 
here. It woidd not be difficult for a naturalist to 
point out the characters stamped on the living Flora 
and Fauna, by which they also might be distinguished 
as a whole from those of all former geological epochs. 
The resemblance of the corals, shells, and insects, of 
certain temperate regions of the southern hemisphere 
(Van Dieman's Land, for example), to those of the 
temperate zone north of the equator, or the close 
analogy of the arctic and antarctic fauna, the species 
in both cases being quite different, are illustrations of 
the common type here alluded to, which is evidently 
caused or controlled by some general law, and by some 
mutual relation existing between the animate creation 
and the state of the habitable surface at any given 

Anthracite Formation of Pennsylvania. 

Oct Sd. — Having already seen the carboniferous 
strata at Blossberg in Pennsylvania, where they are 
very slightly disturbed, and where the coal is bitumi- 
nous, I was desirous of examining some of the great 
mines of anthracite coal which occur in the midst of 

B 5 


the most bent and inclined strata of the All^hany 
mountains. Professor H. D. Rogers^ who, with an 
able corps of assistants, had now nearly brought to a 
close his elaborate State Survey of Pennsylvania, 
kindly offered to be my guide, which enabled me in 
a comparatively short time to obtain an insight into 
the geological structure of this chain. We first fol- 
lowed the course of the Schuylkill River, passing 
through a country moderately elevated (b, c, fig. 5. 
p. 92.), with hills between 200 and 300 feet above the 
sea, where the rocks consisted chiefly of gneiss. As 
we went westward we entered a belt, about twenty- 
five miles broad, of red sandstone and trap (New 
Red), similar to that before mentioned at Newhavcn. 
Having traversed these granitic and secondary form- 
ations, we arrived at Reading, fifty-two miles N. W. 
of Philadelphia, and were then at the base of the 
easternmost of the great parallel ridges which con- 
stitute the Alleghanies or Appalachian chain of 
mountains. The rocks of this chain consist of the 
Silurian, Devonian, and Carboniferous groups, which 
are folded as if they had been subjected to a great 
lateral pressure when in a soft and yielding state, 
large portions having been afterwards removed by 
denudation. No traveller can fail to remark the long 
and uniform parallel ridges, with intervening valleys, 
like so many gigantic wrinkles and furrows, which 
mark the geographical outline of this region; and 


these external features are found by the geologist to 
be intimately connected with the internal arrange- 
ment of the stratified rocks. The long and narrow 
ridges, rarely rising more than 2000 feet above the 
valleys, and usually not more than half that height, 
are broken here and there by transverse fissures, 
which give passage to rivers, and by one of which 
the Schuylkill flows out at Reading. The strata are 
most disturbed on the south-eastern flank of the 
mountain chain, where we first entered, and they 
become less and less broken and inclined as they 
extend westward. 

After passing several belts of the inferior fossili- 
ferous strata, we came to the Anthracite coal-measures 
of Pottsville on the Schuylkill. Here I was agreeably 
surprised to see a flourishing manufacturing town 
with the tall chimneys of a hundred furnaces, burning 
night and day, yet quite free from smoke. Leaving 
this clear atmosphere, and going down into one of the 
mines, it was a no less pleasing novelty to find that 
we could handle the coal without soiling our fingers. 
The slow combustion of anthracite can be overcome 
by a strong current of air, not only in large furnaces, 
but by aid of a blower in the fire-places of private 
dwellings, and its drying effect on the air of a room 
may be counteracted by the evaporation of water. 
As managed by the Americans, I have no hesitation in 

E 6 

84 8TIGMABL£. Chap. IY. 

preferring its use, in spite of the occasional stove-like 
heat produced by it, to that of bituminous coal in 
London, coupled with the penalty of living constantly 
in a dark atmosphere of smoke, which destroys our 
furniture, dress, and gardens, blackens our public 
buildings, and renders cleanliness impossible. 

In the neighbourhood of Pottsville, there are no less 
than thirteen seams of anthracite coal, several of which 
are more than two yards thick. Some of the lowest 
of these alternate with white grits and a conglomerate 
of coarser texture than I had ever seen in any pro- 
ductive coal-measures, some of the pebbles of quartz 
being of the size of a hen's egg. I was curious to 
know whether the Stigmariae would be found here in 
the underclays, as at Blossberg before-mentioned, 
situated 120 miles to the westward. It was easy to 
ascertain the fact, for several of the coal seams, from 
eight to ten feet thick, were quarried in the open air, 
and the strata being vertical, a void space was left, 
after the removal of the fuel, like a straight open 
fissure, in which we could walk, and see, in the wall 
on the one side, a stratum originally above, and on 
the other, that which had been immediately below the 
coal. On the former, or what is usually termed the 
roof, were shales with distinct impressions of ferns ; 
among others, the British species Pecopteris lonchitica 
and Neuropteris cordata^ together with trunks and 


stems of Sigillariay Lepidodendrony and Cdlamites; 
while on' the opposite or south-eastern side^ was an 
imderclay with numerous Stigmariae, often several 
yards, and even in some cases thirty feet long, with 
their leaves or rootlets attached. 

In this coal field, as in all the others hitherto 
observed in America, particular seams of coal are 
found to be far more persistent than the accompany- 
ing beds of sh^e, sandstone, or limestone. As we 
proceeded from Pottsville, by Tamaqua, to the 
Lehigh Summit Mine, we found the beds of grit and 
shale gradually to thin out, so that several beds of 
anthracite, at first widely separated, were brought 
nearer and nearer together, until they imited, and 
formed one mass about fifty feet thick, without any 
greater interpolated matter than two thin layers of 
clay with Stigmariae. At Mauch Chunk, or the 
Bear Mountain, this remarkable bed of anthracite is 
quarried in the open air, and removed bodily to- 
gether with the overlying sandstone, forty feet thick, 
the summit of the hill being " scalped," as one of the 
miners expressed it. The vegetable matter, which 
is represented by this enormous mass of anthracite, 
must, before it was condensed by pressure and the 
discharge of its hydrogen, oxygen, and other volatile 
ingredients, have been probably between 200 and 
300 feet thick. The accumulation of such a thick- 


ness of the remains of plants^ so unmixed with earthy 
ingredients, would be most difficult to explain on 
the hypothesis of their having been drifted into the 
place they now occupy ; but it becomes intelligible 
if we suppose them to have grown on the spot. 
Whether we regard the Stigmarise as roots, according 
to the opinion of M. Adolphe Brongniart and Mr. 
Binney, or embrace the doctrine of their being 
aquatic plants, no one can doubt that they at least 
are fossilised on the very spot where they grew ; and 
as all agree that they are not marine plants, they 
go far to establish the doctrine of the growth in situ 
of the materials of the overlying coal seams. 

The prodigious thickness of the carboniferous rocks 
in this part of the Appalachian chain, is in harmony 
with the theory already alluded to, which requires 
the repeated sinking down of many successive ter- 
restrial surfaces, allowing an indefinite quantity of 
sediment to be superimposed vertically in one con- 
tinuous series of beds. The surveys of Pennsylvania 
and Virginia show that the south-east was the 
quarter whence the coarser materials of the carboni- 
ferous rocks were derived, and there are proofs that 
the ancient land lay in that direction. The con- 
glomerate which forms the general base of the coal 
measures is 1500 feet thick in the Sharp Mountain, 
where I saw it, near Pottsville ; whereas it has only 


a thickness of 500 feet, about thirty miles to the 
north-west, and dwindles gradually away when fol- 
lowed still farther in the same direction, till its 
thickness is reduced to thirty feet. {Rogers. Trans. 
Assoc. Amer. GeoL^ 1840-42, p. 440.) The lime- 
stones, on the other hand, of the coal measures, 
augment as we trace them westward. Similar ob- 
servations have been made in regard to the Silurian 
and Devonian formations in New York ; the sand- 
stones and all the mechanically-formed rocks thinning 
out as they go westward, and the limestones thick- 
ening, as it were, at their expense. It is, therefore, 
clear that the ancient land was to the east ; the deep 
sea, with its banks of coral and shells, to the west. 

I at first supposed that some deception might 
have arisen respecting the alleged thickness of the 
older fossiliferous rocks of the Appalachians, owing 
to the dislocations and inverted position of the beds, 
but I was soon convinced that due regard had been 
paid to the apparent repetitions caused by these 
disturbances, and I have little doubt that those 
Silurian and Devonian strata, which do not exceed 
in their aggregate thickness a mile and a half in the 
State of New York, acquire more than three times 
that thickness in the Pennsylvanian Alleghanies. 

A few days' observation of the identity of the fossil 
plants, and the relative position of the anthracite. 


satisfied me that it was of the same age as the 
bituminous coal which I had seen at Blossberg. 
This opinion was, I beUeve, first promulgated by 
Mr. Featherstonehaugh in 1831, at a time when 
many geologists were disposed to assign a higher an- 
tiquity to the anthracite than to the bituminous 
coal measures of the United States. The recent 
surveys have now established this fact ^beyond all 
question, and hence it becomes a subject of great 
interest to inquire how these two kinds of fuel, 
originating as they did from precisely the same 
species of plants, and formed at the same period, 
should have become so very different in their che- 
mical composition. In the first place, I may mention 
that the anthracitic coal-measures above alluded to, 
occurring in the eastern or most disturbed part of 
the Appalachian chain, are fragments or outliers of 
the great continuous coal field of Pennsylvania, Vir- 
ginia, and Ohio, which occurs about forty miles to 
the westward. This coal field is remarkable for its 
vast area, for it is described by Professor H. D. 
Rogers as extending continuously from N.E. to S. W., 
for a distance of 720 miles, its greatest width being 
about 180 miles. On a moderate estimate, its su- 
perficial area amounts to 63,000 square miles. It 
extends from the northern border of Pennsylvania as 
far south as near Huntsville in Alabama. 



This coal formation^ before its original limits were 
reduced by denudation^ must have measured^ at a 
reasonable calculation^ 900 miles in lengthy and in 
some places more than 200 miles in breadth. By re- 
ference to the section (fig. 5., p. 92.), it will be seen that 
the strata of coal are horizontal to the westward of the 
mountain in the region D, E, and become more and 
more inclined and folded as we proceed eastward. 
Now it is invariably found, as Professor H. D. Rogers 
has shown by chemical analysis, that the coal is 
most bituminous towards its western limit, where it 
remains level and unbroken, and that it becomes pro- 
gressively debituminized as we travel south-eastward 
towards the more bent and distorted rocks. Thus, 
on the Ohio, the proportion of hydrogen, oxygen, 
and other volatile matters, ranges from forty to fifty 
per cent. Eastward of this line, on the Mononga- 
hela, it still approaches forty per cent., where the 
strata begin to experience some gentle flexures. On 
entering the Alleghany Mountains, where the distinct 
anticlinal axes begin to show themselves, but before 
the dislocations are considerable, the volatile matter 
is generally in the proportion of eighteen or twenty 
per cent. At length, when we arrive at some in- 
sulated coal fields (5', fig. 5.) associated with the 
boldest flexures of the Appalachian chain, where the 
strata have been actually turned over, as near Potts- 


ville, we find the coal to contain only from six to 
twelve per cent, of bitumen, thus becoming a genuine 
anthracite. {Trans, of Ass. of Amer. Geohy p. 470.) 
It appears from the researches of Liebig and 
other eminent chemists, that when wood and vege- 
table matter are buried in the earth, exposed to 
moisture, and partially or entirely excluded from 
the air, they decompose slowly and evolve carbonic 
acid gas, thus parting with a portion of their original 
oxygen. By this means, they become gradually 
converted into lignite or wood-coal, which contains 
a larger proportion of hydrogen than wood does. 
A continuance of decomposition changes this lignite 
into common or bitimiinous coal, chiefly by the dis- 
charge of carburetted hydrogen, or the gas by which 
we illuminate our streets and houses. According 
to Bischofi', the inflammable gases which are always 
escaping from mineral coal, and are so often the 
cause of fatal accidents in mines, always contain 
carbonic acid, carburetted hydrogen, nitrogen, and 
olifiant gas. The disengagement of all these gra- 
dually transforms ordinary or bituminous coal into 
anthracite, to which the various names of splint 
coal, glance coal, culm, and many others, have been 

We have seen that, in the Appalachian coal field, 
there is an intimate connection between the extent 


to which the coal has parted with its gaseous con- 
tents, and the amount of disturbance which the 
strata have undergone- The coincidence of these 
phenomena may be attributed partly to the greater 
facility afforded for the escape of volatile matter^ 
where the fracturing of the rocks had produced 
an infinite number of cracks and crevices^ and also 
to the heat of the gases and water penetrating these 
cracks^ when the great movements took place, which 
have rent and folded the Appalachian strata. It is well 
known that, at the present period, thermal waters 
and hot vapours burst out from the earth during 
earthquakes, and these would not fail to promote 
the disengagement of volatile matter from the car- 
boniferous rocks. 

Structure and Origin of the Appalachian 


The subjects discussed in the preceding pages, 
lead me naturally to say something respecting the 
structure of the Appalachian chain, and its geological 
relations to the less elevated regions east and west 
of it. The annexed ideal section (fig. 5.), to which 
I shall have frequently occasion to refer in the 
sequel, will give some notion of the principal phe- 
nomena, omitting a great nmnber of details. Starting 



Chap. IV. 
































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O C M 


o « u i: 
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B o g 

oo g 
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• • • • 


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5 2^ = 5 



from the shores of the Atlantic, on the eastern Bide 
of the Continent, we first come to a low region (a, b), 
which was called the alluvial plain by the first geogra- 
phers. It is occupied by tertiary and cretaceous strata 
nearly horizontal, and containing in general no hard 
and solid rocks, and is usually not more than 
from 50 to 100 feet high, in Pennsylvania and 
Virginia. In these states this zone is not many 
leagues in breadth, but it acquires a breadth of 100 
and 150 miles in the Southern States, and a height 
of several hundred feet towards its western limits. 
The next belt, from b to c, consists of granitic 
rocks (hypogene), chiefly gneiss and mica-schist, 
covered occasionally with unconformable red sand- 
stone. No. 4 (New Red ?), remarkable for its omithic- 
nites. Sometimes also this sandstone rests on the 
edges of the disturbed paleozoic rocks (as seen in 
the Section). The region (b, c), sometimes called the 
" Atlantic Slope," corresponds nearly in average width 
with the low and flat plain (a, b), and is characterised 
by hills of moderate height, contrasting strongly, in 
their rounded shape and altitude, with the long, 
steep, and lofty parallel ridges of the Alleghany 
mountains. The out-crop of the strata in these 
ridges, like the two belts of hypogene and newer 
rocks (a,b, and b,c), above alluded to, when laid 
down on a geological map, exhibit long stripes of 


different colours, running in a N. E. and S- W. 
direction, in the same way as the lias, chalk, and 
other secondary formations in the middle and eastern 
half of England, 

The narrow and parallel zones of the Appalachians 
here mentioned consist of strata, folded into a suc- 
cession of convex and concave flexures, subsequently 
laid open by denudation. The component rocks are 
of great thickness, all referable to the Silurian, 
Devonian, and Carboniferous formations. There is 
no principal or central axis, as in the Pyrenees and 
many other chains — no nucleus to which all the 
minor ridges conform ; but the chain consists of many 
nearly equal and parallel foldings, having what the 
geologists term an anticlinal and synclinal arrange- 
ment. This system of hills extends, geologically con- 
sidered, from Vermont to Alabama, being more than 
1000 miles long, from 50 to 150 miles broad, and 
varying in height from 2000 to 6000 feet. Sometimes 
the whole assemblage of ridges runs perfectly straight 
for a distance of more than 50 miles, after which 
all of them wheel round together, and take a new 
direction, at an angle of 20 or 30 degrees to the 

Mr. R. C. Taylor had made considerable progress 
in unravelling the structure of certain portions of 
this chain, before the commencement of the State 


Surveys of Virginia and Pennsylvania, the former 
conducted by Professor W. B. Rogers, the latter by 
his brother. Professor H. D. Rogers, both aided by 
a numerous corps of assistants. To these elaborate 
and faithful surveys we owe the discovery of the clue 
to the general law of structure prevailing throughout 
this important range of mountains, which, however 
simple it may appear when once made out and 
clearly explained, might long have been overlooked, 
amidst so great a mass of complicated details. It 
appears that the bending and fracture of the beds is 
greatest on the south-eastern or Atlantic side of the 
chain, and the strata become less and less disturbed 
as we go westward, until at length they regain their 
original or horizontal position. By reference to the 
section (fig. 5.), it will be seen that on the eastern side, 
or on the ridges and troughs nearest the Atlantic, 
the south-eastern dips predominate, in consequence 
of the beds having been folded back upon them- 
selves, as in e, those on the north-western side of 
each arch having been inverted. The next set of 
arches (such as k) are more open, each having its 
western side steepest: the next (Z) opens out still 
more widely, the next (m) still more, and this con- 
tinues until we arrive at the low and level part of 
the Appalachian coal field (d, e). 

In nature, or in a true section, the number of 


bendings or parallel folds is so much greater that 
they could not be expressed in a diagram \vithout 
confusion. It is also clear that large quantities of 
rock have been removed by aqueous action or de- 
nudation, as will appear if we attempt to complete 
all the curves in the manner indicated by the dotted 
lines at i and k. 

The movements which imparted so uniform an 
order of arrangement to this vast system of rocks 
must have been contemporaneous, or belonging to 
one and the same series, depending on some common 
cause. Their geological date is unusually well 
defined. We may declare them to have taken place 
after the deposition of the carboniferous strata 
(No. 5.), and before the formation of the red sand- 
stone (No. 4.). The greatest disturbing and de- 
nuding forces have evidently been exerted on the 
south-eastern side of the chain, and it is here that 
igneous or plutonic rocks are observed to have 
invaded the strata, forming dikes, some of which run 
for miles in lines parallel to the main direction of the 
Appalachians, or N.N.E and S.S.W. 

According to the theory of the Professors Rogers, 
the wave-like flexures, above alluded to, are ex- 
plained by supposing the strata, when in a plastic 
state, to have rested on a widely-extended surface of 
fluid lava, and elastic vapours and gases. The 


billowy movement of this subterranean sea of melted 
matter imparted its undulations to the elastic over- 
lying crust, which was enabled to retain the new 
shapes thus given to it by the consolidation of the 
liquid matter injected into fissures.* 

For my own part, I cannot imagine any real con- 
nection between the great parallel undulations of the 
rocks and the real waves of a subjacent ocean of 
liquid matter, on which the bent and broken crust 
may once have rested. That there were great lakes 
or seas of lava, retained by volcanic heat for ages, in 
a liquid state, beneath the Alleghanies, is highly 
probable, for the simultaneous eruptions of distant 
vents in the Andes leave no doubt of the wide sub- 
terranean areas permanently occupied by sheets of 
fluid lava in our own times. It is also consistent 
with what we know of the laws governing volcanic 
action to assume that the force operated in a linear 
direction, for we see trains of volcanic vents break- 
ing out for hundreds of miles along a straight 
line, and we behold long parallel fissures, often filled 
with trap or consolidated lava, holding a straight 
course for great distances through rocks of all ages. 
The causes of this peculiar mode of development are 
as yet obscure and unexplained ; but the existence of 
long narrow ranges of mountains, and of great faults 

* Trans, of Ass. of Amer. Geol. 1840-2, p. 515. 



and vertical shifts in the strata prolonged for great 
distances in certain directions^ may all be results of 
the same kind of action. It also accords well with 
established facts to assume that the solid crust 
overlying a region where the subterranean heat k 
increasing in intensity, becomes gradually upheaved, 
fractured, and distended, the lower part of the newly 
opened fissures becoming filled with fused matter, 
which soon consolidates and crystallizes. These 
uplifting movements may be propagated along narrow 
belts, placed side by side, and may have been in 
progress simultaneously, or in succession, in one 
narrow zone after another. 

When the expansive force has been locally in 
operation for a long period, in a given district, there 
is a tendency in the subterranean heat to diminish ; 
— the volcanic energy is spent, and its position is 
transferred to some new region. Subsidence then 
begins, in consequence of the cooling and shrinking 
of subterranean seas of lava and gaseous matter : and 
the solid strata collapse in obedience to gravity. If 
this contraction take place along narrow and parallel 
zones of country, the incumbent flexible strata would 
be forced, in proportion as they were let down, to pack 
themselves into a smaller space, as they conformed 
to the circumference of a smaller arc. The manner 
in which undulations may be gradually produced in 


pliant strata by subsidence is illustrated on a small 

scale by the creeps in coal-mines ; there both the 

overlying and underlying shales and clays sink down 

from the ceiling, or rise up from the floor, and fill 

the galleries which have been left vacant by the 

abstraction of the fueL* In like manner the failure 

of support arising from subterranean causes may 

enable the force of gravity, though originally exerted 

vertically, to bend and squeeze the rocks as if they 

had been subjected to lateral pressure. 

" Earthquakes have rais'd to heaven the humble vale, 
And gulphs the mountain's mighty mass entomVd, 
And where th' Atlantic rolls, wide continents have bloom'd." 

In applying these lines to the physical revolutions 
of the territory at present under consideration, we 
must remember that the continent which bloomed 
to the eastward, or where the Atlantic now rolls its 
waves (see p. 87.), was anterior to the origin of the 
carboniferous strata which were derived from its 
ruins ; whereas the elevation and subsidence supposed 
to have given rise to the Appalachian ridges was sub- 
sequent to the deposition of the coal-measures. But 
all these great movements of oscillation were again 
distinct from the last upheaval which brought up the 
whole region above the level of the sea, laying dry 

♦ See "Elements of Geology," by the author. 2d ed. 
vol. i. p. 110. 

F 2 


the horizontal New Red Sandstone (No. 4. fig. 5.), as 
well as a great part of, if not all, the Appalachian 

The largest amount of denudation is found, as 
might have been expected, on the south-eastern side 
of the chain, where the force of expansion and con- 
traction, of elevation and subsidence, has been 
greatest. The first set of denuding operations may 
have taken place when the strata, including the car- 
boniferous, were first raised above the sea ; a second, 
when they sank again ; a third, when the Red Sand- 
stone (No. 4.), after it had been thrown down on the 
truncated edges of the older strata, participated in 
the waste. The great extent of solid materials thus 
removed, must add, in no small degree, to the diffi- 
culty of restoring in imagination the successive 
changes which have occurred, and of accounting in a 
satisfactory manner for the origin of this mountain 

Chap.v. wooded ridges of alleqhanies. 101 


Wooded ridges of the AUegJiany Mountains German patois in 

Pennsylvania. — Lehigh summit Mine, — Effects of ice during 
a flood on the Delaware, — Election of a governor at Trenton 
and at Philadelphia. — Journey to Boston. — Autumnal tints of 
ike foliage. — Boston the seat of commerce, of government, and of 
a university. — Lectures at the Lowell Institute. — Influence of 
oral instruction in literature and science. — Fees of public leC' 
turers. — Educational funds sunk in cosdy buildings. — Ad' 
vantages of anti'buUding clauses. — Blind Asylum. — Lowell 
Factories, — National schools. — Equality of sects. — Society in 

October 7. 1841. — The steep slopes, as well as the 
summits of the ridges in the anthracite region of 
Pennsylvania, are so densely covered with wood, that 
the surveyors were obliged to climb to the tops of 
trees, in order to obtain general views of the country, 
and construct a geographical map on the scale of two 
inches to a mile, on which they laid down the result 
of their geological observations. Under the trees, 
the ground is covered with the Rhododendron, Kalmia 
and another evergreen called Sweet Fern ( Comptonia 
asplenifolia), the leaves of which have a very 
agreeable odour, resembling that of our bog-myrtle 
{Myrica Gale), but fainter. The leaves are so like 

F 3 


those of a fern or Pteris in form, that the miners call 
the impressions of the fossil Pecopteris, in the coal- 
shales " sweet-fern." 

We found the German language chiefly spoken in 
this mountainous region^ and preached in most of the 
churches, as at Heading. It is fast degenerating 
into a patois, and it is amusing to see many Ger- ' 
manysed English words introduced even into the 
newspapers, such as iumpeik for turnpike, y^7w« for 
fence, ^«w^r for flour, or others, such as jaily which 
have been adopted without alteration. 

From the Lehigh Summit Mine, we descended for 
nine miles on a railway impelled by our own weight, 
in a small car, at the rate of twenty miles an hour. 
A man sat in front checking our speed by a drag on 
the steeper declivities, and oiling the wheels without 
stopping. The coal is let down by the same railroad, 
sixty mules being employed to draw up the empty 
cars every day. In the evening the mules themselves 
are sent down standing four abreast, and feeding 
out of mangers the whole way. We saw them start 
in a long train of waggons, and were told, that so 
completely do they acquire the notion that it^is their 
business through life to pull weights up hill, and ride 
down at their ease, that if any of them are afterwards 
taken away from the mine and set to other occupa- 
tions, they willingly drag heavy loads up steep as- 


cents^ but obstinately refuse to pull any vehicle down 
hill^ coming to a dead halt at the commencement of 
the slightest slope. 

The general effect of the long unbroken summits 
of the ridges of the Alleghany Mountains is very 
HK>notonous and unpicturesque : but the scenery is 
beautiful^ where we meet occasionally with a trans- 
verse gorge through which a large river escapes. 
After visiting the Beaver Meadow coal field, we left 
the mountains by one of these openings, called the 
Lehigh Gap, wooded on both sides, and almost filled 
up by the Lehigh River, a branch of the Delaware, 
the banks of which we now followed to Trenton in 

New Jersey. 

On our way, we heard much of a disastrous flood 

which occurred last spring on the melting of the 
snow, and swept away several bridges, causing the 
loss of many lives. I observed the trees on the right 
bank of the Delaware at an elevation of about twenty- 
four feet above the present surface of the river, with 
their bark worn through by the sheets of ice which 
had been driven against them. The canal was en- 
tirely filled up with gravel and large stones to the 
level of the towing path, twenty feet above the pre- 
sent level of the stream, which appeared to me to be 
only explicable by supposing the stones to have been 
frozen into and carried by the floating ice. 

F 4 


Oct. 11. — Keaching Trenton, the capital of New 
Jersey, late in the evening, we found the town in all 
the bustle of a general election. A new governor and 
representatives for the State legislature were to be 
chosen. As parties are nearly balanced, and the 
sufirage universal, the good order maintained was 
highly creditable. Processions, called ^^ parades," 
were perambulating the streets headed by bands of 
music, and carrying transparencies with Kghts in 
them, in which the names of different counties, and 
mottoes, such as Union, Liberty, and Equality, were 
conspicuously inscribed. Occasionally a man called 
out with a stentorian voice, ^^ The ticket, the whole 
ticket, and nothing but the ticket," which was fol- 
lowed by a loud English hurra, while at intervals a 
single blow was struck on a great drum, as if to 
imitate the firing of a gun. On their tickets were 
printed the names of the governor, officers, and mem- 
bers for whom the committee of each party had de- 
termined to vote. 

The next day on our return to Philadelphia, we 
found that city also in the ferment of an election, 
bands of music being placed in open carriages, each 
drawn by four horses, and each horse decorated with 
a flag, attached to its shoulder, which has a gay effect. 
All day a great bell tolls at the State house, to re- 
mind the electors of their duties. It sounded like a 
funeral ; and on my inquiring of a bystander what it 



meant, one of the democratic party answered, " It is 
the knell of the whigs." In their popular addresses, 
some candidates ask the people whether they will 
vote for the whigs who will lay on new taxes. As it 
is well known, that such taxes must be imposed, if 
the dividends on the State bonds are to be paid, 
these popular appeals are ominous. The rapid fall in 
the value of State securities shows that the public 
generally have no confidence that the majority of the 
electors will be proof against the insidious arts of 
these demagogues. 

Oct 14. — We came from Philadelphia by New 
York to Boston, 300 miles, without fatigue in twenty- 
four hours, by railway and steam-boat, having spent 
three hours in an hotel at New York, and sleeping 
soundly for six hours in the cabin of a commodious 
steam-ship as we passed through Long Island Sound. 
The economy of time in travelling here is truly ad- 
mirable. On getting out of the cars in the morning, 
we were ushered into a spacious saloon, where with 
200 others we sat down to breakfast, and learnt with 
surprise, that, while thus agreeably employed, we had 
been carried rapidly in a large ferry-boat without 
perceiving any motion across a broad estuary to Pro- 
vidence in the State of Rhode Island. 

Many trees in New Jersey, Connecticut, and 
Massachusetts, have now begun to assume their 

F 5 

106 BOSTON. Chap.V. 

autumnal tints^ especially the maples^ while the 
oaks retain their vivid green colour. I can only 
compare the brightness of the faded leaves^ scarlet^ 
purple, and yellow, to that of tulips. It is now the 
Indian summer, a season of warm sunny weather, 
which often succeeds to the first frost and rain, a 
time which the Indians employed in hunting and 
laying up a store of game for the winter. 

BostoTiy Oct 14. to Dec. 3. 1841. — It is fortunate 
that Boston is at once a flourishing commercial port, 
and the seat of the best endowed university in 
America, for Cambridge, where Harvard College is 
situated, is so near, that it may be considered as a 
suburb of the metropolis. The medical lectures, 
indeed, are delivered in the city, where the great 
hospitals are at hand. The mingling of the pro- 
fessors, both literary and scientific, with the eminent 
lawyers, clergymen, physicians, and principal mer- 
chants of the place, forms a society of a superior 
kind; and to these may be added several persons, 
who, having inherited ample fortunes, have success- 
fully devoted their lives to original researches in 
history, and other departments. It is also a po- 
litical advantage of no small moment that the legis- 
lature assembles here, as its members, consisting in 
great part of small proprietors farming their own 
land, are thus brought into contact with a com- 


munity in a very advanced state of civilisation, so 
that they are under the immediate check of an 
enlightened public opinion. It is far more usual to 
place the capital, as it is called, in the centre of the 
State, often in some small village or town of no 
importance, and selected from mere geographical 
considerations, which might well be disregarded in a 
country enjoying such locomotive facilities. An 
immense sacrifice is then required from those men of 
independent fortune who, for patriotic motives, must 
leave the best society of a large city, to spend the 
winter in some remote spot in the discharge of 
public duties. 

I had been invited when in England by Mr. 
Lowell, trustee and director of a richly endowed 
literary and scientific institution in this city, to de- 
liver a course of twelve lectures on geology during 
the present autumn. According to the conditions of 
the bequest, the public have gratuitous admission to 
these lectures ; but by several judicious restrictions, 
such as requiring applications for tickets to be made 
some weeks before, and compliance with other rules, 
the trustee has obviated much of the inconvenience 
arising from this privilege, for it is well known that 
a class which pays nothing is irregular and careless 
in its attendance. As the number of tickets granted 
for my lectures amounted to 4500, and the class 

r 6 


usually attending consisted of more than 3000 per- 
sons^ it was necessary to divide them into two sets, 
and repeat to one of them the next afternoon the 
lecture delivered on the preceding evening. It is by 
no means uncommon for professors who have not 
the attraction of novelty, or the advantage which I 
happened to enjoy, of coming from a great distance, 
to command audiences in this institution as numerous 
as that above alluded to. The subjects of their dis- 
courses are various, such as natural history, che- 
mistry, the fine arts, natural theology, and many 
others. Among my hearers were persons of both sexes, 
of every station in society, from the most affluent and 
eminent in the various learned professions to the 
humblest mechanics, all well dressed and observing 
the utmost decorum. 

The theatres were never in high favour here, and 
most of them have been turned to various secular 
and ecclesiastical uses, and among others into lecture 
rooms, to which many of the public resort for amuse- 
ment as they might formerly have done to a play, 
after the labours of the day are over. If the selec- 
tion of teachers be in good hands, institutions of this 
kind cannot fail to exert a powerful influence in im- 
proving the taste and intellectual condition of the 
people, especially where college is qiiitted at an 


early age for the business of active life, and where 
there is always danger in a commercial conmiunity 
that the desire of money-making may be carried to 
excess. It is, moreover, peculiarly desirable in a de- 
mocratic state, where the public mind is apt to be 
exclusively absorbed in politics, and in a country 
where the free competition of rival sects has a ten- 
dency to produce not indifferentism, as some at home 
may be disposed to think, but too much excitement 
in religious matters. 

We are informed by Mr. Everett, late governor of 
Massachusetts (since minister of the U. S. in Eng- 
land), that before the existence of the Lowell Found- 
ation, twenty-six courses of lectures were delivered 
in Boston, without including those which consisted 
of less than eight lectures, and these courses were at- 
tended in the aggregate by about 13,500 persons. 
But notwithstanding the popularity of this form of 
instruction, the means of the literary and scientific 
institutions of the city were wholly inadequate to 
hold out a liberal and certain reward to men of talent 
and learning. There were some few instances of 
continuous courses delivered by men of eminence ; but 
the task more commonly devolved upon individuals 
who cultivated the art of speaking merely to become 
the vehicles of second-hand information, and who 


were not entitled to speak with authority, and from 
the ftdness of their own knowledge.* 

The rich who have had a liberal education, who 
know how to select the best books, and can afford 
to purchase them, who can retreat into the quiet of 
their libraries from the noise of their children, and, 
if they please, obtain the aid of private tuition, may 
doubt the utility of public lectures on the fine arts, 
history, and the physical sciences. But oral in- 
struction is, in fact, the only means by which the 
great mass of the middling and lower classes can 
have their thoughts turned to these subjects, and it 
is the fault of the higher classes if the information 
they receive be unsound, and if the business of the 
teacher be not held in high honour. The whole 
body of the clergy in every country, and, under 
popular forms of government, the leading politicians, 
have been in all ages convinced that they must avail 
themselves of this method of teaching, if they would 
influence both high and low. No theological dogma 
is so abstruse, no doctrine of political economy or 
legislative science so diflScult, as to be deemed unfit 
to be preached from the pulpit, or inculcated on the 
hustings. The invention of printing, followed by 
the rapid and general dispersion of the cheap daily 

* See " Everett's Memoir of John Lowell." Boston, 1840. 

Chap.v. fees op public lecturers. Ill 

newspaper, or the religious tract, have been by no 
means permitted to supersede the instrumentality of 
oral teaching, and the powerful sympathy and ex- 
citement created by congregated numbers. K the 
leading patrons and cultivators of literature and 
physical science neglect this ready and efficacious 
means of interesting the multitude in their pursuits, 
they are wanting to themselves, and have no right to 
complain of the apathy or indifference of the public. 
To obtain the services of eminent men engaged in 
original researches, for the deUveiy of systematic 
courses of lectures, is impossible without the com- 
mand of much larger funds than are usually devoted 
to this object. When it is stated that the fees at 
the Lowell Institute at Boston are on a scale more 
than three times higher than the remuneration 
awarded to the best literary and scientific public 
lecturers in London, it will at first be thought hope- 
less to endeavour to carry similar plans into exe- 
cution in other large cities, whether at home or in 
the United States. In reality, however, the sum 
bequeathed by the late Mr. John Lowell for his 
foundation, though munificent, was by no means 
enormous, not much exceeding 70,000/., which, ac- 
cording to the usual fate awaiting donations for 
educational objects, would have been all swallowed 
up in the erection of costly buildings, after which 


the learned would be invited to share the scanty 
leavings of the " Conunittee of Taste," and the mer- 
ciless architect, ^^reliquias Danaiim atque immitis 
Achillei." But in the present case, the testator pro- 
vided in his will that not a single dollar should be 
spent in brick and mortar, in consequence of which 
proviso, a spacious room was at once hired, and the 
intentions of the donor carried immediately into 
effect, without a year's delay. 

If there be any who imagine that a donation might 
be so splendid as to render an anti-building clause 
superfluous, let them remember the history of the 
Girard bequest in Philadelphia. Half a million 
sterling, with the express desire of the testator that 
the expenditure on architectural ornament should be 
moderate ! Yet this vast sum is so nearly consumed, 
that it is doubtful whether the remaining funds will 
suffice for the completion of the palace — splendid, 
indeed, but extremely ill-fitted for a school-house ! 
It is evident that when a passion so strong as that for 
building is to be resisted, total abstinence alone, as in 
the case of spirituous liquors, will prove an adequate 
safeguard. In the " old country," the same fatal pro- 
pensity has stood in the way of all the most spirited 
efforts of modern times to establish and endow new 
institutions for the diffusion of knowledge. It is well 
known that the sum expended in the purchase of the 


ground, and in the erection of that part of University 
College, London, the exterior of which is nearly 
complete, exceeded 100,000/., one-third of which was 
spent on the portico and dome, or the purely orna- 
mental, the rooms under the dome having remained 
useless, and not even fitted up at the expiration of 
fifteen years. When the professor of chemistry 
enquired for the chimney of his laboratory, he was 
informed that there was none, and to remove the 
defect, a flue was run up which encroached on a 
handsome staircase, and destroyed the symmetry of 
the architect's design. Still greater was the dismay 
of the anatomical professor on learning that his lecture 
room was to confoim to the classical model of an 
ancient theatre, designed for the recitation of Greek 
plays. Sir Charles Bell remarked that an anatomical 
theatre, to be perfect, should approach as nearly as 
possible to the shape of a well, that every student 
might look down and see distinctly the subject under 
demonstration. At a considerable cost the room was 
altered, so as to serve the ends for which it was 

The liberal sums contributed by the public for 
the foundation of a rival college were expended in 
like manner long before the academical body came 
into existence. When the professor of chemistry at 
King's College asked for his laboratory, he was told 
it had been entirely forgotten in the plan, but that he 


might take the kitchen on the floor below^ and by in- 
genious machinery carry up his apparatus for illus- 
trating experiments^ through a trap door into an upper 
story, where his lecture room was placed. 

Still these collegiate buildings, in support of 
which the public came forward so liberally, were left, 
like the Girard College, half finished ; whereas, if 
the same funds had been devoted to the securing of 
teachers of high acquirements, station, character, and 
celebrity ; and if rooms of moderate dimensions Iiad 
been at first hired, while the classes of pupils re- 
mained small, a generation would not have been lost, 
the new Institutions would hare risen more rapidly 
to that high rank which they are one day destined to 
attain, and testamentary bequests would have flowed 
in more copiously for buildings well adapted to the 
known and ascertained wants of the establishment. 
None would then grudge the fluted column, the 
swelling dome, and the stately portico ; and literature 
and science would continue to be the patrons of 
architecture, without being its victims. 

Prescott, in his admirable work on the Conquest 
of Mexico, remarks, when discussing the extent of 
the ancient Aztec civilisation, that the progress made 
by the Mexicans in astronomy, and especially the 
fact of their having a general board for public edu- 
cation and the fine arts, proves more in favour of 


their advancement^ than the noble architectural mo- 
Quments which they and their kindred tribes erected. 
'^ Architecture," he observes, " is a sensual gratifi- 
cation, and addresses itself to the eye ; it is the form 
in which the resources of a semi-civilised people are 
most likely to be lavished." * 

Mr. John Lowell, a native of Massachusetts, after 
having carefully studied the educational establish- 
ments of his own country, visited London in 1833, 
and having sojourned there some months, paying a 
visit to the University of Cambridge and other 
places, he pursued his travels in the hope of ex- 
ploring Lidia and China. On his way he passed 
through Egypt, where, being attacked, wldle en- 
gaged in making a collection of antiquities, by an 
intermittent fever, of which he soon afterwards died, 
he drew up his last will in 1835, amidst the ruins 
of Thebes, leaving half of his noble fortune for the 
foundation of a Literary Institute in his native city. 
It has already appeared how admirably he appre- 
ciated the exact point of *^ semi-civilisation " which 
the Anglo-Saxon race had then attained on both 
sides of the Atlantic. 

I spent an agreeable day at Cambridge, visiting 
several of the professors at Harvard University, and 
hearing one of them, Henry Ware, author of " The 

* Conquest of Mexico, vol. i. p. 155. 

116 BLIND ASYLUM. Chap. V. 

Christian Character," a work reprinted, and much 
read in England, preach a sermon in the College 
Chapel. His text, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour 
as thyself," led him to treat of self-love, and to ex- 
plain how this natural passion might be indulged to 
any extent, provided, in obedience to the divine com- 
mandment, our love for others increases in the like 
ratio. I heard afterwards, with great regret, of the 
death of this able and amiable man. 

In the Blind Asylum I saw Laura Bridgman, now 
in her twelfth year. At the age of two she lost her 
sight and hearing by a severe illness, but although 
deaf, dumb, and blind, her mind has been so advanced 
by the method of instruction pursued by Dr. Howe, 
that she shows more intelligence and quickness of 
feeling than many girls of the same age who are in 
full possession of all their senses. The excellent re- 
ports of Dr. Howe, on the gradual development of 
her mind, have been long before the public, and have 
recently been cited by Mr. Dickens, together with 
some judicious observations of his own. Perhaps no 
one of the cases of a somewhat analogous nature, on 
which Dugald Stewart and others have philosophised, 
has furnished so many new and valuable facts illus- 
trating the extent to which all intellectual develop- 
ment is dependent on the instrumentality of the 
senses in discerning external objects, and, at the same 


time, in how small a degree the relative acuteness of 
the organs of sense determine the moral and intel- 
lectual superiority of the individual. 

Nov. 15. — Went twenty-six miles to the north of 
Boston, by an excellent railway, to the manufactur- 
ing town of Lowell, which has sprung up entirely in 
the last sixteen years, and now contains about 20,000 
inhabitants. The mills are remarkably clean, and 
well warmed, and almost all for making cotton and 
woollen goods, which are exported to the West. The 
young women from the age of eighteen to twenty- 
five, who attend to the spinning-wheels, are good- 
looking and neatly dressed, chiefly the daughters of 
New England farmers, sometimes of the poorer 
clergy. They belong, therefore, to a very different 
class from our manufacturing population, and after 
remaining a few years in the factory, return to their 
homes, and usually marry. We are told that, to 
work in these factories is considered far more eligible 
for a young woman than domestic service, as they can 
save more, and have stated hours of work (twelve 
hours a day !), after which they are at liberty. Their 
moral character stands very high, and a girl is paid 
off, if the least doubt exists on that point. Boarding- 
houses, usually kept by widows, are attached to each 
mill, in which the operatives are required to board ; 
the men and women being separate. This regard for 


the welfare and conduct of the work-people when 
they are not on actual duty is comparatively rare in 
England, where the greater supply of labour would 
render such interference and kind superintendance 
much more practicable. Still we could not ex- 
pect that the results would be equally satisfactory 
with us, on account of the lower grade of the 
operatives, and the ignorance of the lower classes 
in England. In regard to the order, dress, and 
cleanliness of the people, these merits are also exem- 
plified in the rural districts of Lancashire, and it is 
usually in our large towns alone, that the work 
people are unhealthy and squalid, especially where 
a number of the poor Irish live crowded together 
in bad dwellings. 

The factories at Lowell are not only on a great 
scale, but have been so managed as to yield high 
profits, a fact which should be impressed on the mind 
of every foreigner who visits them, lest, after admiring 
the gentility of manner and dress of the women and 
men employed, he should go away with the idea 
that he had been seeing a model mill, or a set of 
gentlemen and ladies, playing at factory for their 
amusement. There are few children employed, and 
those under fifteen are compelled by law to go to 
school three months in the year, under penalty of 
a heavy fine. If this regulation is infringed, in- 

Chap.v. national schools. 119 

formers are not wanting, for there is a strong 
sympathy in the public mind with all acts of the 
legislature, enforcing education. The Bostonians 
submit to pay annually for public instruction in their 
city alone, the sum of 30,0007. sterling, which is 
about equal to the parliamentary grant of this year 
(1841) for the whole of England, while the sum 
raised for free schools in the state this year, by 
taxes for wages of teachers, and their board, and 
exclusive of funds for building, exceeds 100,000i 

The law ordains, that every district containing 
fifty families shall maintain one school, for the 
support of which the inhabitants are required to tax 
themselves, and to appoint committees annually for 
managing the funds, and choosing their own school- 
masters. The Bible is allowed to be read in all, and 
is actually read in nearly all the schools ; but the 
law prohibits the use of books ^^ calculated to favour 
the tenets of any particular sect of Christians." 
Parents and guardians are expected to teach their 
own children, or to procure them to be taught, what 
they believe to be religious truth, and for this 
purpose, besides family worship and the pulpit, there 
are Sunday-schools. The system works well among 
this church-building and church-going population. 

As there is no other region in Anglo-saxondom, 


containing 750,000 souls, where national education 
has been carried so far, it is important to enquire to 
what combination of causes its success is nudnlj to 
be attributed. First, there is no class in want or 
extreme poverty here, partly because the facility of 
migrating to the west, for those who are without 
employment, is so great, and also, in part, from the 
check to improvident marriages, created by the high 
standard of living to which the lowest workpeople 
aspire, a standard which education is raising higher 
and higher from day to day. Secondly, I have often 
heard politicians of opposite parties declare, that 
there is no safety for the republic, now that the 
electoral sufirage has been so much extended, unless 
every exertion is made to raise the moral and 
intellectual condition of the masses. The fears 
entertained by the rich of the dangers of ignorance, 
is the only good result which I could discover 
tending to counterbalance the enormous prepon- 
derance of evil arising in the United States from 
so near an approach to universal suffrage. Thirdly, 
the political and social equality of all religious sects, 
— a blessing which the New Englanders do not owe 
to the American revolution, for it was fully recog- 
nised and enjoyed under thesupremacy of the British 
crown. This equality tends to remove the greatest 
stumbling block, still standing in the way of national 


instruction in Great Britain, where we allow one 
generation after another of the lower classes to grow 
up without being taught good morals, good behaviour, 
and the knowledge of things useftil and ornamental, 
because we cannot aU agree as to the precise 
theological doctrines in which they are to be brought 
up. The religious toleration of the different sects 
towards each other in Massachusetts is, I fear, 
accompanied by as little Christian charity as at 
home, and families are often divided, and the best 
relations of private life disturbed, by the bitterness 
of sectarian dogmatism and jealousy ; but, politically, 
aU sects are ready to unite against the encroach- 
ments of any other, and a great degree of religious 
freedom is enjoyed, in consequence of there being 
no sect to which it is ungenteel to belong, no con- 
sciences sorely tempted by ambition to conform to 
a more fashionable creed. 

In New York the Roman Catholic priests have 
recently agitated with no small success for a separate 
allotment of their share of the education fund. 
They have allied themselves, as in the Belgian revo- 
lution, with the extreme democracy to carry their 
point, and may materially retard the general progress 
of education. But there is no reason to apprehend 
that any one sect in New England will have power 
to play the same game ; and these states are the chief 



colonizers of the West — geniiscuncLbulay by the rapi- 
dity of whose multipKcation and progress in civiliza- 
tion the future prospects of the whole confederacy of 
republics will be mainly determined. 

During our stay at Boston the citizens gave a 
splendid ball to the Prince de' Joinville, and the Mayor 
politely sent us tickets of invitation, which gave me 
an opportunity of satisfying myself that foreigners 
have not said too much of the beauty of the young 
American ladies. In general I was so much occu- 
pied with my lectures, or in communicating to the 
Geological Society of London some of the results of 
my observations during my late tour, that I had no 
time to enter into society, or to accept the hospitali- 
ties of the inhabitants. As soon as it was understood 
that I wished to live quietly, all pressing invitations 
were politely abstained from until I had finished my 
course of lectures ; and afterwards, when I found it 
necessary to decline a large number of them, no 
offence was taken. 

The twenty-fifth of November was appointed 
by the Governor of the State to be what is here 
called Thanksgiving-Day — an institution as old as the 
times of the Pilgrim Fathers, one day in the year 
being set apart for thanksgiving for the mercies of 
the past year. As a festival it stands very much in 
the place of Christmas Day as kept in England and 
Germany, being always in the winter, and every body 


going to church In the morning and meeting in large 
family parties in the evening. To one of these we 
were most kindly welcomed ; and the reception which 
we met with here and in the few families to which 
we had letters of introduction, made us entirely forget 
that we were foreigners. Several of our new acqusdnt- 
ances indeed had travelled in England and on the 
Continent, and were in constant correspondence with 
our own literary and scientific friends, so that we were 
always hearing from them some personal news of those 
with whom we were most intimate in Europe, and we 
often reflected with surprise in how many parts of 
England we should have felt less at home. 

I remember an eminent English writer once saying 
to me, when he had just read a recently-published 
book on the United States, ^^ I wonder the author 
went so far to see disagreeable people, when there 
are so many of them at home." It would certainly 
be strange if persons of refined habits, even without 
being fastidious, who travel to see life, and think it 
their duty, with a view of studying character, to 
associate indiscriminately with all kinds of people, 
visiting the first strangers who ask them to their 
houses, and choosing their companions without re- 
ference to congeniality of taste, pursuits, manners, or 
opinions, did not find society in their own or any 

other country in the world intolerable. 

o 2 



Fall of snow and sleigh-driving at Boston, — Jotamey to New- 
haven. — Ichthyolites of Durham^ Connecticut, — Age of Ud 
Sandstone, — Income of farmers. — Baltimore. — WashvngUnu 
— National Museum. — Natural impediments to the growth of 
Washington. — Mfhy chosen for the capital. — Richmond^ 
Virginia. — Effects of slave-labour. — Low Region on fht 
Atlantic Border^ occupied by Tertiary strata. — Infusorial bed 
at Richmond. — Miocene Shells and Corals in the Cliffs of 
the James River compared with Fossils of the European 
Crag and Faluns. — Analogy of forms and difference of 

species, — Proportion of species Commencement of the 

present Geographical distribution of Mollusca, 

Nov. 29. 1841. — Although we were in the lati- 
tude of Rome, and there were no mountains near us, 
we had a heavy fall of snow at Boston this day, fol- 
lowed by bright sunshine and hard frost. It was 
a cheerful scene to see the sleighs gliding noiselessly 
about the streets, and to hear the bells, tied to the 
horses' heads, warning the passer-by of their swift 
approach. As it was now the best season to geo- 
logise in the southern States, I determined to make 
a flight in that direction ; and we had gone no farther 
than Newhaven before we found that all the snow 
had disappeared. I accordingly took the opportunity 
when there of making a geological excursion, with 


!Mr. Silliman, jun., Professor Hubbard, and Mr. 
Whelpley, to examine the red sandstone strata, con- 
taining Ichthyolites, by the side of a small waterfall 
at Middlefield, one mile from Durham, in Connecticut. 
The remains of fish occur in a fine-grained slaty 
sandstone, black and bituminous, about six feet thick, 
which alternates with a coarse conglomerate, some of 
the quartz pebbles being two or three inches in dia- 
meter. Small fragments of fossil wood and a ripple- 
marked surface were observed in some of the strata 
near the fossil-fish. This sandstone is newer than 
the coal, but we have not yet sufficient data to pro- 
nounce very decidedly on its true age. The foot- 
steps of numerous species of birds affi)rd no indication, 
because in Europe we have as yet no traces of birds 
in rocks of such high antiquity, and consequently 
no corresponding term of comparison. As to the 
fish, they have most of them been referred to the 
genus Paleoniscusy and have been supposed, therefore, 
by analogy, to imply that the Connecticut deposit is 
of the age of the Magnesian limestone (Lower New 
Red or Permian Group of Europe). But Mr. Red- 
field has expressed some doubt whether these Ameri- 
can fossils might not constitute a new, though allied 
genus, having the scales, and apparently the vertebrae, 
prolonged to a more limited extent into the upper 
lobe of the tail than in the European species. In 

o 3 


the language of M. Agassiz, they are less heteio- 
cercal than the European Paleoniscus^ and^ therefore, 
less closely related to that type which is uniyersal ia 
the more ancient or paleozoic formations. Sir P. 
Egerton, who confirms these remarks of Mr. S.edfield, 
and adds other distinctions, such as the strong and 
conical teeth, and the smaUness of the oral apertuie, 
informs me that in the five or six distinct species ob- 
tained by me from Durham, Connecticut, he finds the 
scales to be smoother than in the Paleonisciof theMag- 
nesian limestone ; for the latter have their scales more 
or less striated and serrated on the posterior margins. 
The American fossils approximate in the character 
above alluded to, or in having smooth scales, to the 
coal-measure species, so that the evidence derived 
from Ichthyology is very conflicting. Professor H. 
D. Rogers infers from his brother's discovery in Vir- 
ginia of shells in this formation, referred to the Posi^ 
donia Keuperi^ a characteristic species of the Euro- 
pean Trias, that the Connecticut sandstone belongs 
to the Upper New Red or Tiiassic system. 

In the neighbourhood of Durham we learnt 
that a snow-storm, which occurred there in the first 
week of October, had seriously injured the woods, 
weighing down the boughs then in full leaf, and 
snapping off the leading shoots. For the first time 
in the United States I heard great concern expressed 


for the damage sustained by the timber, which is 

l>eginning to grow scarce in New England, where 

coal is dear. 

The valley of the Connecticut presents a pleasing 

picture of a rural population, where there is neither 
poverty nor great wealth. I was told by well-in- 
formed persons, that if the land and stock of the 
farmers or small proprietors were sold off and invested 
in securities giving six per cent, interest, their average 
incomes would not exceed more than from 807. to 
120Z. a year. An old gentleman who lately re- visited 
Durham, his native place, after an absence of twenty- 
five years, told me that in this interval the large 
families, the equal subdivision of the paternal estates 
among children, and the efforts made for the outfit of 
sons migrating to the West, had sensibly lowered the 
fortunes of the Conneciicut yeomanry, so that they 
were reduced nearer to the condition of labourers 
than when he left them. 

Pursuing my course southwards, I found that the 
snow-storm had been less heavy at New York, still 
less at Philadelphia, and after crossing the Susque- 
hanna (Dec. 13.) the weather began to resemble that 
of an English spring. In the suburbs of Baltimore, 
the locomotive engines being detached, our cars were 
drawn by horses on a railway into the middle of the 
town. Maryland was the first slave state we had 

o 4 



visited ; and at Baltimore we were reminded for the 
first time of the poorer inhabitants of a large European 
city by the mean dwellings and dress of some of the 
labouring class^ both coloured and white. 

At Washington I was shown the newly-founded 
national museum^ in which the objects of natural 
history and other treasures collected during the late 
voyage of discovery to the Antarctic regions, the South 
Seas, and California, are deposited. Such a national 
repository would be invaluable at Philadelphia, Kew 
York, or Boston, but here there is no university, no 
classes of students in science or literature, no philo- 
sophical societies, no people who seem to have any 
leisure. The members of Congress rarely have town 
residences in this place, but, leaving their families in 
large cities, where they may enjoy more refined 
society, they live here in boarding-houses until their 
political duties and the session are over. J£ the most 
eminent legislators and statesmen, the lawyers of the 
supreme courts, and the foreign ambassadors, had all 
been assembled here for a great part of the year with 
their families, in a wealthy and flourishing metropolis, 
the social and political results of a great centre of in- 
fluence and authority could not have failed to be 
most beneficial. Circumstances purely accidental, 
and not the intentional jealousy of the democracy, 
have checked the growth of the capital, and deprived 


it of the constitutional ascendency which it might 
otherwise have exerted. Congress first assembled in 
Philadelphia, where the declaration of independence 
was signed ; but after the close of the revolutionary 
war in June, 1783, a party of the disbanded army 
marched to that city to demand their arrears of pay, 
and surrounded the building in which the representa- 
tives of the people were sitting, with fixed bayonets 
for about three hours. This alarm caused them to 
adjourn and meet at Princeton, New Jersey, and 
afterwards to seek some other permanent seat of 
government. But for this untoward event, Phila- 
delphia might have remained the federal metropolis, 
and in that case would certainly have lifted up her 
head above other cities in the New World — 

" Quantiim lenta solent inter viburna cupressi." 

General Washington is said to have selected the 
present site of the capital as the most central spot on 
the Atlantic border, being midway between Maine 
and Florida, and being also at the head of the na- 
vigation of a great river. He had observed that all 
the other principal cities eastward of the Alleghany 
mountains had sprung up on similar sites ; but un- 
fortunately the estuary of the Potomac is so long 
and winding, that to ascend from its mouth to 
Washington is said often to take a vessel as long as 

o 5 


to cross from Liverpool to the mouth of the river, 
Had Amiapolis, which is only thirty miles distaoii, 
been chosen as the capital, it is believed that it 
would, ere this, have contained 100,000 inhabitants. 

We were present at an animated debate in the 
House of Representatives, on the proposed protective 
tariff, and a discussion in the senate on ^^ Ways and 
Means," both carried on with great order and 
decorum. After being presented to the President, 
and visiting several persons to whom we had letters, 
we were warned by a slight sprinkling of snow that 
it was time to depart and migrate further south- 
wards. Crossing the Potomac, therefore, I pro- 
ceeded to S.ichmond, in Virginia, where I resolved 
to sail down the James Stiver, in order to examine 
the geology of the tertiary strata on its shores. 

On entering the station-house of a railway which 
was to carry us to our {dace of embarkation, we 
foimd a room with only two chairs in it. One of 
these was occupied by a respectable-looking woman, 
who immediately rose, intending to give it up to me, 
an act betraying that she was English, and newly- 
arrived, as an American gentleman, even if already 
seated, would have felt it necessary to rise and offer 
the chair to any woman, whether mistress or maid, 
and she, as a matter of course, would have accepted 


the proffered seat. After I had gone out, she told 
mj wife that she and her husband had come a few 
months before from Hertfordshire, hoping to get 
work in Virginia, but she had discovered that there 
was no room here for poor white people, who were 
despised by the very negroes if they laboured with 
their own hands. She had found herself looked 
down upon, even for carrying her own child, for 
they said she ought to hire a black nurse. These 
poor emigrants were now anxious to settle in some 
free state. 

As another exemplification of the impediments to 
improvement existing here, I was told that a New 
England agriculturist had bought a farm on the 
south side of the James river, sold off all the slaves, 
and introduced Irish labourers, being persuaded that 
their services would prove more economical than 
slave-labour. The scheme was answering well, till, by 
the end of the third year, the Irish became very much 
dissatisfied with their position, feeling degraded by 
losing the respect of the whites, and being exposed 
to the contempt of the surrounding negroes. They 
had, in fact, lowered themselves by the habitual 
performance of offices which, south of the Potomac, 
are assigned to hereditary bondsmen. 

o 6 


Miocene Tertiary Strata of Virginia. 

We have already seen that between the hilly 
country and the Athmtic there occurs in the United 
States, a low and nearly level region (a, b, fig. 5. 
p. 92.), occupied principally by beds of marl, clay, 
and sand of the cretaceous and tertiary formations. 
Maclure, in 1817, in his work on geology, kdd 
down with no small accuracy on a coloured map 
the general limits of this great plain, and of the 
granitic district lying immediately to the westward. 
He also pointed out that at the junction of these 
great geological provinces (a, b, and b, c, fig. 5.), 
at the point A, as indicated in the section, almost all 
the great rivers descend suddenly by falls or rapids 
of moderate height, as the Delaware at Trenton, 
the Schuylkill near Philadelphia, the Potomac near 
Washington, the James river at Richmond, Virginia, 
the Savannah at Augusta in Georgia, and many others. 
At these points, therefore, the navigation is stopped, 
and a great many large cities have sprung up 
precisely at this limit, so that the line which marks 
the western boundary of the tertiary, and the eastern 
of the granitic region, is one of no small geological, 
geographical, and political interest. 

The general elevation of the great plain does not 
exceed a hundred feet, although sometimes con- 


siderably higher. Its width in the middle and 
southern states is very commonly from 100 to 150 
miles. The tide, except in the more southern states, 
flows entirely across it, and the rivers intersecting 
it form large estuaries, which may have been due 
to the facility with which the incoherent materials 
of the cliffs were undermined and swept away, a 
process of waste which is still going on. 

Throughout the greater part of the Atlantic plain, 
the cretaceous rocks, if present, are concealed by 
the overlying tertiary deposits, which consist chiefly 
of Miocene strata, extending from Delaware bay 
to the Cape Fear river, and occupying portions of 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, 
an area about 400 miles long from north to south, 
and varying in breadth from 10 to 70 miles. There 
are, besides, some patches of the Miocene form- 
ation in South Carolina and Georgia, where the 
Eocene or older tertiary deposits predominate almost 

I began my examination of these tertiary strata 
in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, where I saw 
in Shockoe creek some Eocene marls with charac- 
teristic shells, on which reposed Miocene red clay 
and sand. Between the two formations a remark- 
able bed of yellow siliceous clay intervenes, from 
twelve to twenty -five feet thick, marked on the 


surface hj a band of meagre vegetation. This day 
was found by Professor W. B. Rogers to be en- 
tirely composed of the sUiceous cases of Infiisorise, 
so minute as only to be detected by a powerful 
microscope^ and yet exhibiting distinct specific 
characters, enabling us to refer them to the Miocene 

Going down the James river about twenty miles 
below Kichmond, I foimd, at a place called City 
Point, on the right bank, a cliff thirty feet higli, 
in which yellow and white sands appear, with shells 
very analogous to those of the Suffolk crag, and 
referable to the same age ; resting on Eocene marl 
and green earth. Several miles lower, at Evergreen, 
I collected abundance of shells in the upper or 
Miocene formation, with great numbers of an Astarte, 
resembling one of the commonest kinds of the 
Suffolk crag, and accompanied by the teeth of sharks, 
and bones of cetacea. Landing then at Coggin's 
Point, several miles farther eastward on the Virginian 
shore, I was conducted by Mr. Ruffin, son of the 
editor of the Farmer's Register, to a locality where 
shell-marl is procured and used for improving light 
soils, just as in Suffolk and on the Loire, strata of 
the same age, called craff and faluriy have for cen- 
turies afforded a fertilizing mixture. 

Here, and at Evergreen before mentioned, large 


flattened masses several feet wide, of a lamelliform 
coral resembling an Astrcea^ were lying on the beach, 
washed out of the Miocene marls. The species has 
been called hj Mr. Lonsdale Columnaria sexradiata^ 
and differs from the genus Astrsea, as defined by 
Ehrenberg, in the stars not being subdivided. 

All the planters in this part of Virginia, to whose 
houses I went without letters of introduction, 
received me most politely and hospitably. To be 
an Englishman engaged in scientific pursuits was 
a sufficient passport, and their servants, horses, and 
carriages, were most liberally placed at my disposal. 

I then crossed to the north side of the James river 
being rowed out at sunrise far from the shore to 
wait for a steamer. The hour of her arrival being 
somewhat uncertain, we remained for some time in 
the cold, muffled up in our cloaks, in a small boat 
moored to a single wooden pile driven into a shoal, 
with three negroes for our companions. The situ- 
ation was desolate in the extreme, both the banks 
of the broad estuary appearing low and distant, and 
as wild and uninhabited as when first discovered 
in 1607, by Captain Smith, before he was taken 
prisoner, and his life saved by the Indian maiden 
Pocahontas. At length we gladly hailed the large 
steamer as she came down rapidly towards us, and 
my luggage was immediately taken charge of by 


two of the sable crew, who called themselves Lord 
Wellington and Julius Caesar. 

We disembarked in a few hours near the old 
deserted village of Jamestown, at the Grove Landmg, 
seven miles south of Williamsburg. Here I found 
the beach strewed over with innimierable fossil shells, 
washed out of the sandy Miocene marls of a cliff 
forty feet high. Some large varieties of the genus 
Pecten were most abundant, closely packed together 
in a dense bed, above which was another layer 
composed almost wholly of the shells of a Chama 
{C. conffreffata), both valves being united in each 
individual. From the same cliff I also procured 
shells of the genera Conusy Olivoy Marffinella, Pusus, 
Pyrultty Murexy Natica^ and others. 

We then visited Williamsburg, where there is a 
University founded by William and Mary, and 
therefore very ancient for this country. In the 
neighbourhood I procured a rich harvest of fossil 
shells, collecting in one morning with my own hands 
no less than seventy distinct species, besides several 
corals, in a pit at Burwell's Mill. Upon the whole, 
I procured 147 species of shells, exclusive of Balani 
and corals, from this formation in the United States, 
and chiefly during the present expedition and near 
the banks of the James river. 

That they belong to the same age as the Miocene 


deposits of Europe may be inferred: — first, from 
their position, as they overlie the Eocene marls 
containing shells, resembling those of the London 
and Paris basins : — secondly, from the close affinity 
of many of the most abundant species to fossils of the 
crag of Suffi)lk and the French faluns: — thirdly, 
from the proportion of the fossil shells, identical in 
species with molluscar, now inhabiting the American 
coast, the proportion being about one sixth of the 
whole, or about seventeen per cent, in those com- 
pared by me, for I have been able to identify 23 
out of 147 with living shells. This relation of the 
fossil and recent fauna had already led Mr. Conrad 
and the Professors Rogers to the same conclusions, 
and they had correctly called these deposits Miocene. 
Fourthly, the corals, of which I obtained thirteen 
species, agree all generically with those of the 
Miocene beds of Europe, and some specifically, as 
a lunulite, the same as one from the Suffolk crag, and 
Anthophyllum breve, common in the faluns of Tou- 
raine. Fifthly, the cetacea also agree generically, 
and the fish in many cases specifically, with Euro- 
pean Miocene fossils, and no remains of reptiles have 
been found on either side of the Atlantic in this 

When we consider how remarkably the species of 
the Suffolk crag differ from the shells of the contem- 


poraneous faluns of the Loire, the geologist will not 
be surprised to learn that I have only met with nine 
American Miocene shells, agreeing withfossUs of the 
same period in Europe. It is also worthy of notice 
that the shells identified with recent species agree 
with testacea, now liying on the western side of the 
Atlantic, some of which, as some kinds of i^uZ^r^r, a sub- 
genus of PyruUiy and Gnatkodon, an estuary shell, are 
forms peculiar to America. In like manner, the fossil 
shells foimd in the Miocene strata of Europe, which 
agree with recent kinds, belong to species inhabiting 
the British seas, the Mediterranean, or the African 
coast of the Atlantic Hence it follows that at the 
remote period called Miocene, the seas were not only 
divided as now into distinct geographical provinces, 
but already that peculiar distribution of the living 
mollusca which now exists had begun to prevail. 
This conclusion is remarkable when we recollect that 
at the geological era alluded to, the faima was so 
distinct from the present, that four fifths of the species 
now living had not yet come into existence. 

In regard to the climate of the Miocene period it is 
not uninteresting to observe that the fossil shells of 
Maryland and Virginia resemble those of Touraine 
and Bourdeaux more nearly than the fossils of Suffolk. 
This might have been expected from the nearer cor- 
respondence in latitude ; and it is the presence of such 


genera as Conus^ Oliva^ Marginella^ and Crassatella 
(represented by large species), forms belonging to 
warmer seas, which assimilate the American and 
French deposits, and contrast both of them with the 
English, where no representatives of these genera 
are met with. Nevertheless, it is singular that there 
should be so much resemblance between the Miocene 
shells of the Loire and Gironde and those of the James 
river and other estuaries in the United States which 
lie ten degrees of latitude farther south than the 
French faluns, the latter being in the 47th, while 
the American strata of the same age are in the 37th 
of north latitude. This circumstance may probably 
be accounted for by curves in the isothermal lines 
similar in their prolongation east and west, to 
those now existing as pointed out by Humboldt, in 
his essay on Climate. 



Pine Barrens of Virginia and North Carolina. — Railway 
train stopped by snow and ice. — The Oreat Dismal 
Swamp. — Soil formed entirely of vegetable matter.— 
Rises higher than the contiguous firm land. — Buried 
timber. — Lahe in the middle. — The origin of coed iKiw- 
trated by the Cheat Dismal. — Objections to the theory of an 
ancient atmosphere highly charged with carbonic acid. 

Dec. 23, 1841. — From Williamsburg we went to 
Norfolk in Virginia, passing down the James river 
in a steamer, and from Norfolk by railway to Weldon 
in North Carolina, passing for eighty miles through 
a low level country, covered with fir trees, and 
called the Pine Barrens. On our way we were 
overtaken by rain, which turned to sleet, and in the 
evening formed a coating of ice on the rails, so that 
the wheels of the engine could take no hold. There 
was a good stove and plenty of fuel in the car, but 
no food. After a short pause, the engineer backed 
the locomotive for half a mile over that part of the 
rail from which the snow and ice had just been 
brushed and scraped away by the passage of the 
train; then, returning rapidly, he gained suflScient 
momentum to carry us on two or three miles farther. 


and, by several repetitions of this manoeuvre, he 
brought us, about nightfall, to a small watering 
station, where there was no inn, but a two-storied 
cottage not far off. 

Here we were made welcome, and as we had pre- 
viously dropped by the way all our passengers except 
two, were furnished with a small room to ourselves, and 
a clean comfortable bed. We soon made a blazing 
wood-fire, and defied the cold, although we could 
see plainly the white snow on the ground through 
openings in the unplastered laths of which the wall 
of the house was made. Before morning all the 
snow was melted, and we again proceeded on our 
way through the Pine Barrens. 

Our car, according to the usual construction in 
this country, was in the shape of a long omnibus, 
with the seats transverse, and a passage down the 
middle, where, to the great relief of the traveller, he 
can stand upright with his hat on, and walk about, 
warming himself when he pleases at the stove, which 
is in the centre of the car. There is often a private room 
fitted up for the ladies, into which no gentleman can 
intrude, and where they are sometimes supplied with 
rocking-chairs, so essential to the comfort of the 
Americans, whether at sea or on land, in a fashionable 
drawing-room or in the cabin of a ship. It is sin- 
gular enough that this luxury, after being popular 


for ages all over Lancashire^ required transplantation 
to the New World before it could be improyed 
and become fashionable, so as to be reimported 
into its native land. 

The Pine Barrens, on which the long-leafed or 
pitch pines flourish, have for the most part a siliceous 
soil, and form a broad belt many hundred miles in 
length, running parallel to the coast, in the region 
called the Atlantic Plain, before alluded to. The 
sands, as we follow this region from New Jersey to 
Georgia, are derived from strata of more than one 
tertiary period, and there are interstratified beds of 
clay, which, whenever they come to the surface in 
valleys, cause swamps, where peculiar loads of ever- 
green oaks, the cypress or cedar, tall canes, and 
other plants abound. Many climbers, called here 
wild vines, encircle the trunks of the trees, and on 
the banks of the Roanoke, near Weldon, I saw 
numerous misletoes with their white berries. The 
Pine Barrens retain much of their verdure in winter, 
and were interesting to me from the uniformity and 
monotony of their general aspect, for they constitute, 
from their vast extent, one of the marked features 
in the geography of the globe, like the Pampas of 
South America. 

There are many swamps or morasses in this low 
flat region, and one of the largest of these occurs 


between the towns of Norfolk and Weldon. We 
traversed several miles of its northern extremity on 
the railway, which is supported on piles. It bears 
the appropriate and very expressive name of the 
" Great Dismal," and is no less than forty miles in 
length from north to south, and twenty-five miles in 
its greatest width from east to west, the northern 
half being situated in Virginia, the southern in 
North Carolina. I observed that the water was ob- 
viously in motion in several places, and the morass 
has somewhat the appearance of a broad inundated 
river-plain, covered with all kinds of aquatic trees 
and shrubs, the soil being as black as in a peat-bog. 
The accumulation of vegetable matter going on here 
in a hot climate, over so vast an area, is a subject of 
such high geological interest, that I shaU relate what 
I learnt of this singular morass. The best account 
yet published of it is given by Mr. Edmund RuflSn, 
the able editor of the Farmer's Register (see voL iv.. 
No. 9. January 7. 1837). 

It is one enormous quagmire, soft and muddy, 
except where the surface is rendered partiaUy firm 
by a covering of vegetables and their matted roots ; 
yet, strange to say, instead of being lower than the 
level of the surrounding country, it is actually higher 
than nearly all the firm and dry land which en- 
compasses it, and, to make the anomaly complete, in 


spite of its semi-fluid character, it is higher in the 
interior than towards its mar^n. 

The only exceptions to both these statements is 
found on the western side, where, for the distance of 
about twelve or fifteen miles, the streams flow from 
slightly elevated but higher land, and supply all 
its abundant and overflowing water. Towards the 
north, the east, and the south, the waters flow from 
the swamp to different rivers, which give abundant 
evidence, by the rate of their descent, that the Great 
Dismal is higher than the surrounding firm ground. 
This fact is also confirmed by the measurements 
made in levelling for the railway from Portsmouth 
to Suffolk, and for two canals cut through different 
parts of the morass, for the sake of obtaining timber. 
The railway itself, when traversing the Great Dismal, 
is literally higher than when on the land some 
miles distant on either side, and is six to seven feet 
higher than where it passes over dry ground, near to 
Suffolk and Portsmouth. Upon the whole, the 
centre of the morass seems to lie more than twelve 
feet above the flat country round it. If the streams 
which now flow in from the west, had for ages been 
bringing down black fluid mire, instead of water, over 
the firm subsoil, we might suppose the ground so in- 
undated to have acquired its present configuration. 
Some small ridges, however, of land must have 

Chap.vil soil formed of vegetable matter. 145 

existed in the original plain or basin, for these now 
rise like low islands in various places above the 
general surface. But the streams to the westward do 
not bring down liquid mire, and are not charged 
with any sediment. The soil of the swamp is formed 
of vegetable matter, usually without any admixture 
of earthy particles. We have here, in fact, a deposit 
of peat from ten to fifteen feet in thickness, in a latitude 
where, owing to the heat of the sun, and length of 
the summer, no peat mosses like those of Europe 
would be looked for under ordinary circumstances. 

In countries like Scotland and Ireland, where the 
climate is damp, and the summer short and cool, the 
natural vegetation of one year does not rot away during 
the next in moist situations. If water flows into 
such land, it is absorbed, and promotes the vigorous 
growth of mosses and other aquatic plants, and when 
they die, the same water arrests their putrefaction. 
But as a general rule, no such accumulation of peat 
can take place in a country like that of Virginia, 
where the summer's heat causes annually as large a 
quantity of dead plants to decay as is equal in amount 
to the vegetable matter produced in one year. 

It has been already stated that there are many 
trees and shrubs in the region of the Pine Barrens 
(and the same may be said of the United States 
generally), which, like our willows, flourish lux- 



uriantly in water. The juniper trees, or white cedar 
( Cupressus thyoides\ stand firmly in the softest part 
of the quagmire, supported by their long tap-roots, and 
afford, with many other evergreens, a dark shade, under 
which a multitude of ferns, reeds, and shrubs, from 
nine to eighteen feet high, and a thick carpet of 
mosses, four or five inches high, spring up and are 
protected from the rays of the sun. When these are 
most powerful, the large cedar {Cupressus disticha) 
and many other deciduous trees are in full leafl 
The black soil formed beneath this shade, to which 
the mosses and the leaves make annual additions, 
does not perfectly resemble the peat of Europe, most 
of the plants being so decayed as to leave little more 
than soft black mud, without any traces of organ- 
ization. This loose soil is called sponge by the 
labourers; and it has been ascertained that, when 
exposed to the sun, and thrown out on the bank of a 
canal, where clearings have been made, it rots 
entirely away. Hence it is evident that it owes its 
preservation in the swamp to moisture and the shade 
of the dense foliage. The evaporation continually 
going on in the wet spongy soil during summer 
cools the air, and generates a temperature resembling 
that of a more northern climate, or a region more 
elevated above the level of the sea. 

Numerous trunks of large and tall trees lie buried 

Chap.vil great dismal swamp. 147 

in the black mire of the morass. In so loose a soil 
they are easily overthrown by winds, and nearly as 
many have been found lying beneath the surface of 
the peaty soil as standing erect upon it. When 
thrown down, they are soon covered by water, and 
keeping wet they never decompose, except the sap 
wood, which is less than an inch thick. Much of the 
timber is obtained by sounding a foot or two below 
the surface, and it is sawn into planks while half 
imder water. 

The Great Dismal has been described as being 
highest towards its centre. Here, however, there is 
an extensive lake of an oval form, seven miles long, 
and more than five wide, the depth, where greatest, 
fifteen feet ; and its bottom, consisting of mud like 
the swamp, but sometimes with a pure white sand, a 
foot deep, covering the mud. The water is trans- 
parent, though tinged of a pale brown-colour, like 
that of our peat-mosses, and contains abundance of 
fish. This sheet of water is usually even with its 
banks, on which a thick and tall forest grows. 
There is no beach, for the bank sinks perpendicularly, 
so that if the waters are lowered several feet it 
makes no alteration in the breadth of the lake. 

Much timber has been cut down and carried out 
from the swamp by means of canals, which are per- 
fectly straight for long distances, with the trees on 

H 2 


each fflde arching over and almost joining their 
branches across, so that they throw a dark shade on 
the water, which of itself looks black, being coloured 
as before mentioned. When the boats emerge from 
the gloom of these avennes into the lake, the scene 
is said to be ^' as beautiful as fairj land." 

The bears inhabiting the swamp climb trees in 
search of acorns and gum berries, breaking off large 
boughs of the oaks in order to draw the acorns near 
to them. These same bears are said to kill hogs and 
even cows. There are also wild cats, and occa- 
sionally a solitary wolf, in the morass. 

That the ancient seams of coal were produced for 
the most part by terrestrial plants of all sizes, not 
drifted, but growing on the spot, is a theory more and 
more generally adopted in modem times, and the 
growth of what is called sponge in such a swamp, 
and in such a climate as the Great Dismal, already 
covering so many square miles of a low level region 
bordering the sea, and capable of spreading itself in- 
definitely over the adjacent country, helps us greatly 
to conceive the manner in which the coal of the 
ancient Carboniferous rocks may have been formed. 
The heat, perhaps, may not have been excessive 
when the coal measures originated, but the entire 
absence of frost, with a warm and damp atmosphere, 
may have enabled tropical forms to flourish in 


latitudes far distant from the line. Huge swamps 
in a rainy climate, standing above the level of the 
surrounding firm land, and supporting a dense 
forest, may have spread far and wide, invading the 
plains, like some European peat-mosses when they 
burst ; and the frequent submergence of these masses 
of vegetable matter beneath seas or estuaries, as often 
as the land sunk down during subterranean move- 
ments, may have given rise to the deposition of 
strata of mud, sand, or limestone, immediately upon 
the vegetable matter. The conversion of successive 
surfaces into dry land, where other swamps sup- 
porting trees may have formed, might give origin to a 
continued series of coal-measures of great thickness. 
In some kinds of coal, the vegetable texture is 
apparent throughout under the microscope; in 
others, it has only partially disappeared; but even 
in this coal the flattened trunks of trees of the 
genera Lepidodendron^ Sigillaria^ and others, con- 
verted into pure coal, are occasionally met with, and 
erect fossil trees are observed in the overlying strata, 
terminating downwards in seams of coal. The 
chemical processes by which vegetable matter buried 
in the earth is gi'adually turned into coal and an- 
thracite has been already explained (see above, 
p. 90.). 

H 3 


Before conclodiiig the remarks which are naturally 
suggested by a visit to the Great Dismal, I shall 
say a few words on a popular doctrine, favoured 
by some geologists, respecting an atmosphere highly 
charged with carbonic acid, in which the coal plants 
are supposed to have flourished. Some imagine 
the air to hare been so fuQ of choke-damp during 
the ancient era alluded to, that it was unfitted for 
the respiration of warm-blooded quadrupeds and 
birds, or even reptiles, which require a more rapid 
oxvc^nation of their blood than creatures lower in the 
scale of organization, such as have alone been met 
with hitherto in the Carboniferous and older strata. It 
is assumed that an excess of oxygen was set free when 
the plants which elaborated the coal subtracted many 
hundred million tons of carbon from the carbonic 
acid gas which previously loaded the air. All this 
carbon was then permanently locked up in solid 
seams of coal, and the chemical composition of the 
earth's atmosphere essentially altered. 

But they who reason thus are bound to inform us 
what may have been the duration of the period in the 
course of which so much carbon was secreted by the 
powers of vegetable life, and, secondly, what accession 
of fresh carbonic acid did the air receive in the same. 
We know that in the present state of the globe, 
the air is continually supplied with carbonic acid 


Tom several sources, of which the three principal are, 
irst, the daily putrefaction of dead animal and 
r egetable substances ; secondly, the disintegration of 
rocks charged with carbonic acid and organic matter; 
md, thirdly, the copious evolution of this gas from 
uineral springs and the earth, especially in volcanic 
countries. By that law which causes two gases of 
different specific gravity, when brought into contact, 
to become uniformly diffused and mutually absorbed 
through the whole space which they occupy, the 
heavy carbonic acid finds its way upwards through 
all parts of the atmosphere, and the solid materials of 
large forests are given out from the earth in an in- 
visible form, or in bubbles rising through the water 
of springs. Peat-mosses of no slight depth, and 
30vering thousands of square miles, are thus fed with 
their mineral constituents without materially de- 
ranging the constituents of the atmosphere breathed 
by man. Thousands of trees grow up, float down to 
the delta of the Mississippi, and other rivers, and are 
buried, and yet the air, at the end of many centuries, 
may be as much impregnated with carbonic acid as 

Coral reefs are year after year growing in the 
ocean — springs and rivers feed the same ocean with 
carbonic acid and lime ; but we have no reason to 
infer that when mountain masses of calcareous rock 

H 4 


have thus been gradually formed in the sea, aby 
essential change in the chemical composition of its 
waters has been brought about. We have no accurate 
data as yet for measuring whether in our own time, 
or at any remote geological era, the relative supply " 
and consumption of carbon in the air or the ocean 
causes the amount of those elements to vary greatly; 
but the variation, if admitted, would not have caused 
an excess, but rather a deficit of carbon in the pe- 
riods most productive of coal or peat, as compared to 
any subsequent or antecedent epochs. In fact, a 
climate favouring the rank and luxurious growth of 
plants, and at the same time checking their decay, 
and giving rise to peat or accumulations of vegetable 
matter, might, for the time, diminish the average 
amount of carbonic acid in the atmosphere — a state 
of things precisely the reverse of that assumed by 
those to whose views I am now objecting. 



Tour to Charleston^ South Carolina, — Facilities of Locomotion. 
— Augusta, — Voyage down the Savannah Biver, — Shell 
Bluff, — Slave-Labour. — Fever and Ague. — MiUhaven, — 
Pine Forests of Georgia. — Alligators and Land-Tortoises, — 
Warmth of Climate in January, — Tertiary Strata on the 
Savannah, — Fossil Remains of Mastodon and Mylodon near 
Savannah, — Passports required of Slaves. — Cheerfulness of 
the Negroes, 

Dec. 28. — Charleston, South Carolina. We 
arrived here after a journey of 160 miles through the 
pine forests of North Carolina, between Weldon and 
Wilmington, and a voyage of about 17 hours, in a 
steam ship, chiefly in the night between Wilmington 
and this place. Here we find ourselves in a genial 
climate, where the snow is rarely seen, and never lies 
above an hour or two upon the ground. The rose, 
the narcissus, and other flowers, are still lingering 
in the gardens, the woods still verdant with the 
magnolia, live oak, and long-leaved pine, while the 
dwarf fan palm or palmetto, frequent among the 
underwood, marks a more southern region. In less 
than four weeks since we left Boston, we have passed 
from the 43d to the 33d degree of latitude, carried 
often by the power of steam for several hundred miles 

H 5 


together through thinly peopled wildernesses, yet 
sleeping every night at good inns, and contrasting 
the facilities of locomotion in this new country with 
the difficulties we had contended with the year before 
when travelling in Europe, through populous parts 
of Touraine, Brittany, and other provinces of France. 
At Charleston I made acquaintance with several 
persons zealously engaged in the study of natural 
history, and then went by an excellent railway 136 
miles through the endless pine woods to Augusta, in 
Georgia. This journey, which would formerly have 
taken a week, was accomplished between sunrise and 
sunset; and, as we scarcely saw by the w^ any 
town or village, or even a clearing, nor any human 
habitation except the station houses, the spirit of en- 
terprise displayed in such public works filled me with 
astonishment which increased the farther I went South. 
Starting from the sea-side, and imagining that we 
had been on a level the whole way, we were surprised 
to find in the evening, on reaching the village of Aikin, 
sixteen miles from Augusta, that we were on a height 
several hundred feet above the sea, and that we had 
to descend a steep inclined plane to the valley of the 
Savannah river. The strata cut through here in 
making the railway consist of vermilion-coloured 
earth and clay, and white quartzose sand, with 
masses of pure white kaolin intermixed. These 


Chap. VIH. AUGUSTA. 155 

strata belong to the older or Eocene tertiary form- 
ation, which joins the clay-slate and granitic region 
a few miles above Augusta, where I visited the 
rapids of the Savannah. 

I had been warned by my scientific friends in the 
North, that the hospitality of the planters might 
greatly interfere with my schemes of geologizing in 
the Southern states. In the letters, therefore, of 
introduction furnished to me at Washington, it was 
particularly requested that information respecting 
my objects, and facilities of moving speedily from 
place to place, should be given me, instead of dinners 
and society. These injunctions were every where 
kindly and politely complied with. It was my 
intention, for the sake of getting a correct notion of 
the low country between the granitic region and the 
Atlantic, to examine the cliffs bounding the Sa- 
vannah river from its rapids to near its mouth, a 
distance, including its windings, of about 250 miles. 
After passing a few days at Augusta, where, for the 
first time, I saw cotton growing in the fields, I em- 
barked in a steam boat employed in the cotton trade, 
and went for forty miles down the great river, which 
usually flows in a broad alluvial plain, with an 
average fall of about one foot per mile, or 250 
feet between Augusta and the sea. Like the 
Mississippi and all large rivers, which, in the flood 

H 6 


season^ are densely charged with sediment, the 
Savannah has its immediate banks higher than the 
plain intervening between them and the high grounds 
beyond, which usually, however distant horn the 
river, present a steep cliff or ** bluff'* towards it 
The low flat alluvial plain, overflowed in great part 
at this rainy season, is covered with aquatic trees, 
and an ornamental growth of tall canes, some of them 
reaching a height of twenty feet, being from one to 
two inches in diameter, and with their leaves still 
green. The lofty cedar (^Cupressus distichd)^ now 
leafless, towers above them, and is remarkable for the 
angular bends of the top boughs, and the large thick 
roots which swell out near the base. 

I landed first at a cliff about 120 feet high, 
called Shell Bluff, from the large fossil oysters 
which are conspicuous there. About forty miles 
below Augusta, at Demery's Ferry, the place where 
we disembarked, the waters were so high that we • 
were carried on shore by two stout negroes. In the 
absence of the proprietor to whom I had letters, we 
were hospitably received by his overseer, who came 
down to the river bank, with two led horses, on one 
of which was a lady's saddle. He conducted us 
through a beautiful wood, where the verdure of the 
evergreen oaks, the pines, and hollies, and the 
mildness of the air, made it difficult for us to believe 


Chap.viil slave labour. 157 

that It was mid-winter, and that we had been the 
month before in a region of snow storms and sledges. 
We crossed two creeks, and after riding several miles 

. reached the house, and were shown into a spacious 
room, where a great wood fire was kept up constantly 
on the hearth, and the doors on both sides left open 
day and night. 

Setuming home to this hospitable mansion in the 
dusk of the evening of the day following, I was sur- 
prised to see, in a grove of trees near the court-yard 
of the farm, a large wood-fire blazing on the ground. 
Over the fire hung three cauldrons, filled, as I after- 
wards learned, with hog's lard, and three old negro 
women, in their usual drab-coloured costume, were 
leaning over the cauldrons, and stirring the lard to 
clarify it. The red glare of the fire was reflected 
from their faces, and I need hardly say how much 
they reminded me of the scene of the witches in 

•' Macbeth. Beside them, moving slowly backwards 
and forwards in a rocking-chair, sat the wife of the 
overseer, muffled up in a cloak, and suffering from a 
severe cold, but obliged to watch the old slaves, who 
are as thoughtless as children, and might spoil the 
lard if she turned away her head for a few minutes. 
When I inquired the meaning of this ceremony, I 
was told it was " killing time," this being the coldest 
season of the year, and that since I left the farm in 


the morning thirty hogs had been sacrificed by tlie 
side of a running stream not far off. These were 
destined to serve as winter provisions for the ne- 
groes, of whom there were about a hundred on this 
plantation. To supply all of them with food, clothes, 
and medical attendants, young, old, and impotent, as 
well as the able-bodied, is but a portion of the 
expense of slave-labour. They must be continually 
superintended by trustworthy whites, who might 
often perform no small part of the task, and far more 
effectively, with their own hands. 

I fossilized for three days very diligently at Shell 
Bluff, obtaining more than forty species of shells, 
chiefly casts, referable to the Eocene formation; of 
which I shall speak by-and-by. 

Resuming our voyage, thirty miles further down 
the river, in another large cotton steam-boat, we 
were landed at Stony Bluff, in Georgia, where I 
wished to examine the rocks of burr-stone. There 
was no living being or habitation in sight. The 
large steamer vanished In an Instant, sweeping down 
the swollen river at the rate of seventeen miles an 
hour, and it seemed as If we had been dropped down 
from a balloon, with our luggage, In the midst of a 
wilderness. I began by exercising my hammer on 
the burr-stone of this low bluff; a cellular kind of 
flint, sometimes used for millstones, and full of sUIcIfied 


corals and minute shells^ and, as I afterwards found, 
by aid of a powerful microscope, of sponges. It is an 
Eocene formation, and alternates with beds of red 
loam. After making a collection of specimens, I 
walked about the wood, and foimd a lone house, at 
the door of which a woman was sitting, in a languid 
state of health. She said she had just recovered from 
the fever, or chill ; and among other inquiries, asked 
when we had last had this complaint. On being told 
we had never had it, she said, " I should like to live 
in your country, for among the Whites there is not 
one in this section of Georgia that has escaped." It 
is true, that consumption, so common in the Northern 
states, and so often fatal, is unknown here ; but the 
universality of the ague makes these low districts in 
the Southern states most unenviable dwelling-places. 
The best season for a geological tour in this part of 
Georgia and South Carolina, east of the mountains, is 
from December to April inclusive. 

I waited for the return of the owner of the lone 
house, and told him I wished to visit the plantation 
of Colonel Jones, at Millhaven. He consented to 
let me hire his barouche with one horse, telling me 
I must send it back the best way I could, after find- 
ing my own way for twelve miles through the pine- 
forest, as he could spare me no driver. The lanes 
through the wood were numerous, and a storm had 


blown down so many tall pines across the road^ each 
of which it was necessary to circumnavigate, that we 
thought ourselves fortunate when we arrived safe at 
the destined haven. My new host added to the 
kindness and frankness of a Southern planter, what I 
had little expected in the midst of this forest, a strong 
love for my favourite pursuits, and guided me at once 
to Jacksonborough, and other neighbouring places, 
best worthy the attention of a geologist. 

We had many long rides together through those 
woods, there being no imderwood to prevent a horse 
from galloping freely in every direction. The long- 
leaved pines emit a faint odour somewhat resembling 
that of the hyacinth, and their bright-green foliage 
was finely brought out against the clear blue sky. 
The air was balmy, and unusually warm, even for 
Georgia in the first week of January. We saw se- 
veral butterflies, one of a bright yellow colour, and 
bats flying about in the evening. The croaking of 
the frog and the chirping of the cricket were again 
heard. They had been silent a few days before, 
when the air was cooler. The sheep, which remain 
out in these woods all the winter, are now fol- 
lowed by Iambs about three weeks old. I saw many 
black squirrels here, but only heard of the opossum, 
racoon, bear, and alligator, without seeing any. A 
few days ago, an alligator was shot fourteen feet 


ong, in the act of carrying off a pig; and the sports- 
nen complain to me that they devour their dogs 
isrhen they follow the deer, which, on the first alarm, 
usually take to the Savannah river. 

I frequently observed the holes of the gopher, a 
kind of land-tortoise, which biurows in the sand, and 
is now hybernating below ground. Four or five in- 
habit one hole ; their eggs are rather smaller than a 
hen's. They are gregarious, and in summer are seen 
feeding ten or twelve together on the low shrubs. 
They are said to be very strong for their size, and 
a negro-woman assured a lady of our party that 
she was so light that she might be " toted by a 
gopher." We also saw small hillocks, such as are 
thrown up by our moles, made by a very singular ani- 
mal, which they call a salamander, because, I believe, 
it is often seen to appear when the woods are burnt. 
It is not a reptile, but a species of rat {Pseudostoma 
pinetorum), with pouches on its cheeks. 

On quitting Millhaven, instead of continuing my 
voyage down the river, I hired a carriage to convey 
us to the town of Savannah, a distance of nearly one 
hundred miles. Here and there I went down from 
the high road to examine the river-cliffs, consisting 
of bright red-coloured loam, red and grey clay, and 
white sand. At Hudson's Seach and other points I 
found Eocene shells and fishes' teeth, chiefly of the 

162 TCKKEY-BUZZABDS. Chap. Vffl. 

genera Myliobates and Lamna. One day^ on retum- 
ing from the river, I came suddenly in the wood on 
some turkey-buzzards feeding on a dead hog. I had 
often seen since we crossed the Potomac these large 
black and grey birds soaring at a great height in the air, 
but I was now surprised to see one of them perch on 
a stump a few yards from me, and seem perfectly 
fearless. In our last day's journey, I remarked, for 
the first time in America, a large flight of rooks, 
some wheeling about in the air, others perched on 

Near the village of Ebenezer we passed over a 
long causeway, made of logs, which for three quarters 
of a mile was under water. The tall cedars {Cu- 
pressus disticha)^ and other trees arching over and 
forming a long aisle, reminded me exactly of the de- 
scriptions given of the canals in the Great Dismal 
Swamp. Some of the myrtles in these wet grounds 
are very fragrant. 

We were pursuing a line of road not much fre- 
quented of late, since the establishment of the rail- 
way from Augusta to Charleston. Our arrival, 
therefore, at the inns was usually a surprise, and in- 
stead of being welcomed, we were invariably recom- 
mended to go on farther. When once admitted, we 
were made very comfortable, having our meals with 
the family, and being treated more like guests than 


customers. On one occasion our driver, to whose 
brother our carriage and horses belonged, fell in with 
the son of a neighbouring planter, who reproached him 
in a friendly manner for not having come to his house 
the night before, and brought us with him. The 
social equality which prevails here arises not so much 
from the spirit of a republican government, as from 
the fact of the whites constituting an aristocracy for 
whom the negroes work. Had we availed ourselves 
of letters of introduction freely offered to us, we 
might have passed from the house of one hospitable 
planter to another, and heard as little of reckonings 
at inns as Don Quixote expected, after his study of 
the histories of knights errant. 

Jan. 10. 1842. — On the tenth day after leaving 
Augusta, we arrived at Savannah, from which town 
I immediately set out on an excursion through a flat, 
swampy country, resembling a large delta, to Beauly 
and the Vernon river, about fifteen miles to the 
south-east. I went by Heyner's Bridge, on the 
White Bluff creek, to see a spot about twelve miles 
from Savannah, where I had learnt from Dr. Haber- 
sham that bones of the mastodon and other extinct 
mammalia had been discovered. The bed of clay, 
about six feet thick, containing them, can only be 
seen at low water, and I descended to it in a boat 
when the tide was out ; and by the aid of the negroes. 


obtained the grinder of the common American mas- 
todon. The stratum enclosing these and other bones 
rests immediately on sand containing marine shells of 
living species^ and is covered by the mud of a fresh- 
water swamp^ in which trees grow, and when thrown 
down by the winds, become occasionally imbedded. 
One of the teeth given to me from this place by 
Dr. Habersham was ascertained, by Mr. Owen, to be 
referable to his new genus, Mylodon, Mr. Hamilton 
Couper afterwards sent me from a similar geological 
position, farther south in Georgia, near the mouth of 
the Alatamaha, the tooth of a megatherium. It is 
evident, from his observations and my own, that at 
a comparatively recent period since the Atlantic was 
inhabited by the existing species of marine testacea, 
there was an upheaval and laying dry of the bed of 
the ocean in this region. The new land supported 
forests in which the megatherium, mylodon, mastodon, 
elephant, a species of horse different from the com- 
mon one, and other quadrupeds, lived, and were oc- 
casionally buried in the swamps. There have also 
been subsidences on the coast, and perhaps, far in- 
land; for in many places near the sea there are 
signs of the forest having become submerged, the 
remains of erect trees being seen enveloped in stra- 
tified mud and sand : I even suspect that this coast 
is now sinking down, at a slow and insensible rate. 


for the sea is encroacliing and gaming at many points 
on the fresh- water marshes. Thus at Beauly I found 
upright stumps of trees of the pine, cedar, and ilex 
covered with live oysters and barnacles, and exposed 
at low tide ; the deposit in which they were buried 
having been recently washed away from around them 
by the waves. I also observed, that the flat country 
of marshes was bounded on its western or inland side 
by a steep bank or ancient cliff cut in the sandy ter- 
tiary strata, and there are other inland cliffs of the 
same kind at different heights implying the suc- 
cessive elevation above the sea of the whole tertiary 

Not only in South Carolina and Georgia, but also 
in the low region of North Carolina, as for example, 
fifteen miles below Newbeme, the remains of extinct 
quadrupeds have been met with. The tooth of a 
horse found in the latter place, with the bones of 
mastodon, elephant, and other mammalia, was pre- 
sented to me by Mr. Conrad, remarkably curved, and 
agreeing, in this respect, with a fossil tooth discovered 
by Mr. Darwin on the north side of the Plata, in 
Entre Rios, in South America, where it accompanied 
the mastodon and megatherium. As no species of 
equus existed in the New World when it was dis- 
covered in the fifteenth century, naturalists were in- 
clined, at first, to be incredulous in regard to the 


real antiquity of this fossil ; but as the tooth is more 
carved than in the recent horse, ass, or zebra, the 
foseil species may have differed as widely from any 
living representative of this genus, as the zebra or 
wild ass from the horse of Arabia. 

It is a fact weU worthy of attention that in the 
southern states of the Union so many extinct qua- 
drupeds, such as the mastodon, elephant, megathe- 
rium, mylodon, and horse, should occur, agreeing, 
some specifically and others in generic characters, 
with those found in corresponding latitudes in South 
America near the river Plata, and in Patagonia, or 
between latitudes 31" and 50" S., and that in both 
hemispheres they should be accompanied by marine 
fossil sheUs of recent species, as Mr. Darwin has shown 
to be the case in the Pampas. Yet, although these 
quadrupeds are so modem, geologically speaking, as 
to have co-existed with the present testaceous fauna, 
we cannot attribute their extermination to the agency 
of man ; for it is not the huge beasts alone, but qua- 
drupeds as small as the rat, which have become ex- 
tinct in South America within the same period, as 
Mr. Lund, the Danish naturalist, has shown in re- 
ference to BraziL 

On the beach at Beauly I saw numerous foot 
tracks of racoons and opossums on the sand, which 
had been made during the four hours immediately 

Chap. VIII. LAND CRABS. 167 

preceding, or since the ebbing of the tide. Already 
some of them were half filled with fine blown sand, 
showing the process by which distinct casts may be 
formed of the footsteps of animals in a stratum of 
quartzose sandstone. I remarked that the tracks of 
the racoons could be traced at several points to beds 
of oysters, on which these animals are said to feed. 
The negroes told me, that sometimes a large oyster 
closes his shell suddenly, and holds the racoon fast 
by his paw till the returning tide comes up and 
drowns him. 

The surface of the beach for half a mile was co- 
vered with small round pellets of mud as thick as 
hailstones, of the size of currants and peas, and 
arranged for the most part in small heaps. These 
are made by thousands of land crabs (^Gelasimus vo- 
cans ?), which they call fiddlers, because the motion 
of their claws is compared to the arm of a player on 
the violin. By the side of each heap was a per- 
pendicular hole several inches deep, into which when 
alarmed the crab retreats sideways, sometimes dis- 
appearing, but often leaving the larger claw pro- 
jecting above for want of room. They make these 
holes by rolling the wet sand into pellets, and then 
bringing up each ball separately to the surface. 

A planter of this country told me it was amusing 
to see a flock of turkies driven down for the first 


time from the interior to feed on the crabs in the 
marine marshes. They, at first, walk about in a 
ludicrous state of alarm, expecting their toes to be 
pinched, but after a time, one bolder than the rest is 
tempted by hunger to snap up a small fiddler, after 
which the rest fall to and devour them by thousands. 
On my way through the woods in this low region 
near Savannah, I saw some fine magnolias ninety 
feet high, palmettos six feet high in tufts, and oaks 
hung with white pendant wreaths, sometimes ten 
feet long, of the wiry parasitic Tillandsia usnaeoides. 
This climber, which also festoons the woods in South 
America, much resembles the lichen called in England 
*^ old man's beard," but is a phenogamous plant. 

In order to see the bed of clay containing the 
bones of the mastodon at Heyner's Bridge, it was 
necessary for me to be on the ground by daybreak 
at low tide. With this view, I left Savannah in the 
middle of the night. The owner of the property 
kindly lent me his black servant as a guide, and I 
found him provided with a passport, without which 
no slave can go out after dusk. The exact streets 
through which he was to pass in his way to me were 
prescribed, and had he strayed from this route he 
might have been committed to the guard-house. 
These and other precautionary regulations, equally 
irksome to the slaves and their masters, are said to 


have become necessary after an insurrection brought 
on by abolitionist missionaries, who are spoken of 
here in precisely the same tone as incendiaries, or 
beasts of prey whom it would be meritorious to shoot 
or hang. In this savage and determined spirit I 
heard some planters speak who were mild in their 
manners, and evidently indulgent to their slaves. 
Nearly half the entire population of this state are of 
the coloured race, who are said to be as excitable 6s 
they are ignorant. Many proprietors live with their 
wives and children quite isolated in the midst of the 
slaves, so that the danger of any popular movement 
is truly appalling. 

The negroes, so far as I have yet seen them, whe- 
ther in domestic service or on the farms, appear very 
cheerful and free from care, better fed than a large 
part of the labouring class of Europe ; and, though 
meanly dressed, and often in patched garments, never 
scantily clothed for the climate. We asked a woman 
in Georgia, whether she was the slave of a family of 
our acquaintance. She replied, merrily, " Yes, I 
belong to them, and they belong to me." She was, 
in fact, bom and brought up on the estate. 

On another occasion we were proceeding in a well- 
appointed carriage with a planter, when we came 
unexpectedly to a dead halt. Inquiring the cause, 
the black coachman said he had dropped one of his 



white gloves on the road, and must drive back and 
try to find it. He could not recollect within a mile 
where he had last seen it : we remonstrated, but in 
vain. As time pressed, the master in despair took 
off his own gloves, and, saying he had a second pair, 
gave them to him. When our charioteer had de- 
liberately put them on, we started again. 



Return to Charleston, — Fossil human skeleton, — Oeographical 
distribution of qucLdrupeds in North America, — Severe 
frost in 1835 in South Carolina, — White limestone of the 
Cooper River and Santee Canal, — Referred to the Eocene 
period^ not intermediate between tertiary and chalk, — Lime^ 
sinks, — Species of shells common to Eocene strata in America 
and Europe, — Causes of the increased insalubrity of the low 
region of South Carolina, — Condition of the slave population, 
— Cheerfulness of the negroes : their vanity. — State of animal 
existence. — Invalidity of marriages, — The coloured population 
multiply faster than the whites, — Effects of the interference of 
abolitionists, — Laws against education, — Crradual emancipation 
equally desirable for the whites and the coloured race, 

Jan. 13. 1842. — From Savannah we returned to 
Charleston in a steam-ship, on board of which we 
found an agreeable party, consisting chiefly of oflScers 
of the U. S. army returning from Florida, where they 
had nearly brought to a close a war of extermina- 
tion carried on for many years against the Seminole 
Indians. They gave a lively picture of the hardships 
they underwent in the swamps and morasses during 
this inglorious campaign, in the course of which the 
lives of perhaps as many whites as Seminoles were 
sacrificed. The war is said to have been provoked 
by the attacks of the Indians on new settlers. 

I 2 


In the Museum at Charleston, I was shown a 
fossil human skull from Guadaloupe^ imbedded in 
solid limestone, which they say belongs to the same 
skeleton of a female as that now preserved in the 
British Museum, where the skull is wanting. 

Dr. Bachman whom I saw here is engaged in a 
great work on the quadrupeds of North America. He 
pointed out to me the boundary of several distinct 
zones of indigenous mammalia, extending east and west 
on this continent, where there are no great natural 
barriers running in the same direction, such as moun- 
tain ridges, deserts, or wide arms of the sea to check 
the migrations of species. The climate alone has been 
sufficient to limit their range. The mammiferous 
fauna of the State of New York, comprising about 
forty species, is distinct from that of the arctic region 
600 miles north of it, and described by Dr. Richard- 
son. It is equally distinct from that of South Ca- 
rolina and Georgia, a territory about as far distant 
to the south. In Texas, where frosts are unknown, 
another assemblage of species is met with. The opos- 
sum, for example, of that country {Didelphis cancri- 
vord) is different from that of Virginia. The latter 
(JDidelphis virginiana) is one of those species which 
is common to many provinces, extending from Florida 
as far north as Pennsylvania, where it has been ob- 
served while the snow was lying two feet deep on 

Chap. IX. SEVERE FROST. 173 

the ground. The racoon has a still wider habitation, 
ranging as did the buffalo originally (^Bison ameri- 
canus) from the north of Canada to the Gulf of 
Mexico. But these are exceptions to the general 
rule. Similar restrictions seem to have prevailed in 
the era of extinct quadrupeds, the great mastodon 
{M. giganteus) having evidently abounded in Canada 
and New York, as well as Kentucky and Georgia, 
while the megatherium and mylodon were almost 
entirely confined to the southern States. 

When discoursing here on the influence of climate, 
many accounts were given me of a frost which vi- 
sited Charleston in February, 1835, so severe that 
wine was frozen in bottles. The tops of the Pride- 
of- India tree, of Chinese origin, were killed : all the 
oranges, of which there were large orchards, were de- 
stroyed. Beds of oysters, exposed between high and 
low water mark, perished in the estuaries, and the 
effluvia from them was so powerful as to injure the 
health of the inhabitants. 

Several planters attribute the failure of the cotton 
crop this year (1842) to the unusual size and number of 
the icebergs, which floated southwards last spring from 
Hudson's and BaflSn's Bays, and may have cooled 
the sea and checked the early growth of the cotton 
plant. So numerous and remote are the disturbing 
causes in meteorology ! Forty degrees of latitude 

I 3 



intervene between the region where the ice-floes are 
generated and that where the crops are raised^ whose 
death-warrant they are supposed to have carried with 

Before I visited the southern States, I had heard 
from several American geologists that calcareous 
rocks occurred there intermediate in age between the 
chalk and the tertiary formations, and helping to fill 
the void which separates those two well-marked eras 
in the European series. Having satisfied myself that 
all the white limestone of the Savannah river was 
referable to the Eocene epoch, I now set out to de- 
termine whether the same could be said of that ex- 
posed to view on the Cooper river and Santee canal, 
about thirty miles north of Charleston. I was ac- 
companied in an excursion of a week by Dr. Ravenel, 
who kindly offered to be my guide ; and we first vi- 
sited a plantation of his, called *^ The Grove," near 
the mouth of the Cooper river, where, in the marshes, 
there are deep deposits of clay and sand, enclosing 
the stools and trunks of the cypress, hiccory, and 
cedar, often imbedded in an erect position, which 
must have grown in fresh water, but are now sunk 
six and even sixteen feet below the level of high 
water. Every where there are proofs of the coast 
having sunk, and the subsidence seems to have gone 
on in very modem times ; for some old cedars still 


standing on the surface have been killed by the en- 
croachment of the salt water. We had come from 
Charleston in a small private steam-boat^ and after 
passing Strawberry Ferry and entering the Santee ca- 
nal, were allowed by favour to pass through the locks 
without paying tolls, and, contrary to the usual regula- 
tions, ^hich exclude steam-boats. The thoughtless 
negroes allowed the chimney of our vessel to get so 
choked up with soot that we were soon forced to 
quit this conveyance, and travel by land. The barges 
on the canal are constructed of different sizes, so that, 
after going down laden with cotton, they are put one 
into another when returning empty, and thus escape 
a large part of the tolls at the locks. The slaves are 
fond of cock-fighting; and on the prow of each barge 
there stood usually a game-cock, perched as if he 
were the ensign of the vessel. 

We passed the Brygon Swamp, about forty miles 
north of Charleston, where the remains of the mas- 
todon were found when the canal was cut. Wild 
animals might still be mired in this same morass, 
latitude 33** 20' N., showing that these fossils in the 
southern States occur in precisely the same geological 
position as in New York and Canada. We slept at 
Wantoot, and then went by Eutaw to Vance's 
Ferry on the Santee river, then to Cave Hall, exa- 
mining the tertiary white marl and limestone, and 

z 4 


176 LIME-SINKS. Chap. IX. 

collecting the shells and corals contained in it. Lime- 
sinks^ or funnel-shaped cavities^ are frequent in this 
country^ arising from natural tunnels and cavities in 
the subjacent limestone^ through some of which sub- 
terranean rivers flow. An account was given me of 
a new hollow which opened about fifteen years ago, 
about two miles south of the Santee river^ into which 
a mule drawing a plough sank suddenly. About a 
hundred yards from the same spot, I saw a large 
cavern sixty feet high at its entrance in the white 
limestone, from the mouth of which flowed a small 
stream. The undermining effect of such rivers ex- 
plains the linear arrangement so common in lime- 
sinks in South Carolina and Georgia. The waUs 
of such " sinks " are vertical, and the strata exposed 
to view consist usually of clay and sand, which rest 
upon the limestone. 

From Cave Hall we went in a north-westerly di- 
rection to Stoudenmire Creek, a tributary of the 
Santee, where the siliceous burr-stone and brick-red 
loam appear above the white limestone. In the 
course of this examination, I satisfied myself that the 
limestone and white marl, a formation which must 
sometimes amount to 120 feet in thickness, in the 
low region of Cooper river and the Santee canal, 
are a continuation of the same Eocene deposit which 
I had seen at Shell Bluff, at Jacksonboro', and other 


places on the Savannah river, and which I after- 
wards observed at Wilmington, in North Carolina. 
I found many species in all these places, common to 
those of Claiborne, in Alabama, where the largest 
number (more than 200) of Eocene shells in a good 
state of preservation have been met with ; and are 
described and figured in the works of Mr. Conrad and 
Mr. Lea of Philadelphia. Dr. Ravenel pointed out 
to me some remarkable new species of Scutella at 
the Grove, near the mouth of the Cooper river, and 
these were accompanied by several well-known Eocene 
shells like those of Claiborne. The same white 
limestone and marl may be said to be continuous 
for forty miles, from the Grove to the Santee river. 

At Eutaw and other points, corals of the genera 
Idmonetty Acystisy Pustuloporay Vincularia^ and Es^ 
chara occur, with a species of Scalaria^ and other 
shells. These fossils, and the rock containing them, 
reminded me so much of the straw-coloured lime- 
stone of the cretaceous formation seen on the banks 
of Timber Creek, in New Jersey, that I do not 
wonder that some errors had arisen from confound- 
ing the tertiary and secondary deposits of the south. 
The species, however, prove on closer inspection to 
be different. This lithological resemblance of the 
rocks seems to have led to the admission into Dr. 
Morton's list of the cretaceous fossils of North 

I 5 

178 £0€£N£ SHELLS. CflAF.nL 

America ; a list for the most part very correct, of the 
following seven tertiary species which really came 
from the Eocene strata of South Carolina. These are, 
Baianus peregrinusy Pecten calvatus, P. membranosusy 
Terehratula lachrymay Conus gyratusy Scutella LyelUy 
and Echinus infulattis (see Morton's Synopsis, pL 10.). 
The belief that all these species were common to the 
chalk and tertiary strata led naturally to the opinioi) 
that in the southern States a formation existed inter- 
mediate in diaracter between the rocks of the se- 
condary and those of the tertiary periods. 

I consider the burr-stone and associated clays and 
sands of Stoudenmire and Aikin, South Carolina, and 
of Augusta, Millhaven, and Stony Bluff, in Georgia, 
to belong also to an Eocene deposit, and to be higher 
in the series than the white limestone formation. 

Out of 125 species of Eocene shells which I col- 
lected in the southern States, or which were presented 
to me, I have only been able to identify seven with 
European species of the same epoch. These are 
Trochus agglutinanSy Solarium canaliculatum, Bo^ 
nellia terehellatay Infundibulum trochiformey Litho^ 
domus dactyluSy Cardita planicostUy and Ostrea beU 

But there are a considerable number of representa- 
tive species, and an equal niunber of forms peculiar 
to these older tertiary strata of America. 


The Osirea sellcsformisy which may be considered 
as representing the O. Jlabellula of the Paris and 
London basins, appears to be one of the most cha- 
racteristic and widely disseminated Eocene shells in 
Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, for I foimd 
it at Shell Bluff and on the Santee riyer, and the 
James river, in Virginia. 

On the banks of the Cooper river, we heard occa- 
sionally the melodious and liquid note of the mocking- 
bird in the woods. It is of a fearless disposition, 
and approaches very near to the houses. I can 
well imagine that in summer, when the leaves are out, 
and the flowers in full splendour, this region must 
be most beautifuL But it is then that the planters are 
compelled by the fever and ague to abandon their 
country seats. It was not so formerly. When the 
English army was campaigning on the Cooper and 
Santee rivers in the revolutionary war, they en- 
camped with impunity in places where it would 
now be death to remain for a few days in the hot 
season. I inquired what could have caused so great 
a change, and found the phenomenon as much a 
matter of controversy as the origin of the malaria in 
Italy. The clearing away of the wood from large 
spaces is the chief alteration in the physical con- 
dition of this region in the course of the last sixty 
years, whereby the damp and swampy grounds un- 

I 6 


dergo annually the process of being dried up by a 
burning sun. Marshes which are overflowed by the 
tide twice in every twenty-four hours near the neigh- 
bouring coast, both in South Carolina and Georgia, 
are perfectly healthy. Dr. Arnold remarks, in his 
Koman History, that Kome was more healthy before 
the drainage of the Campagna, and when there was 
more natural wood in Italy and in northern Europe 
generally. In the southern States of the Union there 
are no fevers in winter, at a season when there is no 
large extent of damp and boggy soil exposed to a hot 
sun, and imdergoing desiccation. 

On our way home from Charleston, by the rail- 
way from Orangeburg, I observed a thin black line 
of charred vegetable matter exposed in the perpendi- 
cular section of the bank. The sand cast out in dig- 
ging the railway had been thrown up on the original 
soil, on which the pine forest grew ; and farther ex- 
cavations had laid open the junction of the rubbish 
and the soil. As geologists, we may learn from this 
fact how a thin seam of vegetable matter, an inch or 
two thick, is often the only monument to be looked 
for of an ancient surface of dry land, on which a 
luxuriant forest may have grown for thousands of 
years. Even this seam of friable matter may be 
washed away when the region is submerged, and, 
if not, rain-water percolating freely through the 


sand may, in the course of ages, gradually carry away 
the carbon. 

As there were no inns in that part of South Ca- 
rolina through which we passed in this short tour, 
and as we were every where received hospitably by 
the planters, I had many opportunities of seeing their 
mode of life, and the condition of the domestic and 
farm slaves. In some rich houses maize, or Indian 
corn, and rice were entirely substituted for wheaten 
bread. The usual style of living is that of English 
country gentlemen. They have well-appointed car- 
riages and horses, and well-trained black servants. 
The conversation of the gentlemen turned chiefly on 
agricultural subjects, shooting,*and horse-racing. Se- 
veral of the mansions were surrounded with deer- 

Arriving often at a late hour at our quarters in the 
evening, we heard the negroes singing loudly and 
joyously in chorus after their day's work was over. 
On one estate, about forty black children were 
brought up daily before the windows of the planter's 
house, and fed in sight of the family, otherwise, we 
were told, the old women who have charge of them 
might, in the absence of the parents, appropriate 
part of their allowance to themselves. All the slaves 
have some animal food daily. When they are ill, they 
sometimes refuse to take medicine, except &om the 


hands of the master or mistress ; and it is of all tasb 
the most delicate for the owners to decide when 
they are really sick, and when only atin-mining fix)m 

After the accounts I had read of the sufierings of 
slaves, I was agreeably surprised to find them, in 
general, so remarkably cheerful and light-hearted. 
It is true that I saw no gangs working imder over- 
seers on sugar-plantations, but out of two millions 
and a half of slaves in the United States, the larger 
proportion are engaged in such farming occupations 
and domestic services as I witnessed in Georgia and 
South Carolina. I was often for days together with 
negroes who served lAe as guides, and found them 
as talkative and chatty as children, usually boasting 
of their master's wealth, and their own peculiar me- 
rits. At an inn in Virginia, a female slave asked us 
to guess for how many dollars a year she was let out 
by her owner. We named a small siun, but she told 
us exultingly, that we were much under the mark, 
for the landlord paid fifty dollars, or ten guineas a 
year for her hire. A good-humoured butler, at another 
inn in the same state, took care to tell me that his 
owner got 30/. a year for him. The coloured stewardess 
of a steam-ship was at great pains to tell us her value, 
and how she came by the name of Queen Victoria. 
When we recollect that the dollars are not their own, 

Chap. IX. NEGRO VANITY. 183 

we can hardly refrain from smiling at the childlike 
simplicity with which they express their satisfaction 
at the high price set on them. That price, however, 
is a fair test of their intelligence and moral worth, of 
which they have just reason to feel proud, and their 
pride is at least free from all sordid and mercenary 
considerations. We might even say that they 
labour with higher motives than the whites — a 
disinterested love of doing their duty. I am aware 
that we may reflect and philosophise on this pe- 
culiar and amusing form of vanity, until we per- 
ceive in it the evidence of extreme social degra- 
dation ; but the first impression which it made upon 
my mind was very consolatory, as I found it im- 
possible to feel a painful degree of commiseration for 
persons so exceedingly well satisfied with themselves. 
South Carolina is one of the few states where there 
is a numerical preponderance of slaves. One night, 
at Charleston, I went to see the guard-house, where 
there is a strong guard kept constantly in arms, and 
on the alert. Every citizen is obliged to serve in 
person, or find a substitute ; and the maintenance of 
such a force, the strict laws against importing books 
relating to emancipation, and the prohibition to bring 
back slaves who have been taken by their masters 
into free states, show that the fears of the owner, 
whether well-founded or not, are real. 


During our stay at Charleston^ we were present at 
a negro weddings where the bride and bridegroom, 
and nearly all the company, were of unmixed A&ican 
race. They were very merry. The bride and bride- 
maids all dressed in white. The marriage service 
performed by an episcopal clergyman. Not long 
afterwards, when staying at a farm-house in Nortii 
Carolina, I happened to ask a planter if one of liis 
negroes with whom we had been conversing was 
married. He told me, Yes, he had a wife on that 
estate, as well as another, her sister, on a different 
property which belonged to him ; but that there was 
no legal validity in the marriage ceremony. I re- 
marked, that he must be mistaken, as an episcopal 
minister at Charleston would not have lent himself 
to the performance of a sacred rite, if it were nu- 
gatory in practice, and in the eye of the law. He 
replied, that he himself was a lawyer by profession, 
and that no legal validity ever had been, or ought to 
be, given to the marriage tie, so long as the right of 
sale could separate parent and child, husband and 
wife. Such separations, he said, could not always 
be prevented, when slaves multiplied fast, though 
they were avoided by the masters as far as possible. 
He defended the custom of bringing up the children 
of the same estate in common, as it was far more 
humane not to cherish domestic ties among slaves. 


On the same farm I talked with several slaves who 
bad been set to fell timber by task-work, and had 
BLnished by the middle of the day. They never ap- 
peared to be overworked; and the rapidity with 
which they increase beyond the whites in the United 
States shows that they are not in a state of dis- 
comfort, oppression, and misery. Doubtless, in 
the same manner as in Ireland and parts of Great 
Sritain, the want of education, mental culture, and 
respect for themselves, favours improvident mar- 
riages among the poor ; so the state of mere animal 
existence of the slave, and his low moral and in- 
tellectual condition, coupled with kind treatment 
and all freedom from care, promote their multipli- 
cation. The effect of the institution on the progress 
of the whites is most injurious, and, after travelling 
in the northern States, and admiring their rapid ad- 
vance, it is most depressing to the spirits. There 
appears to be no place in society for poor whites. If 
they are rich, their slaves multiply, and from mo- 
tives of kindly feeling towards retainers, and often 
from false pride, they are very unwilling to sell them. 
Hence they are constantly tempted to maintain a 
larger establishment than is warranted by the amount 
of their capital, and they often become involved in 
their circumstances, and finally bankrupt. The pru- 
dence, temper, and decision of character required to 
manage a plantation successfully is very great. It is 


notorious that the hardest taskmasters to the slaytt 
are those who come from the northern free States. 

I often asked myself^ when in the midst of a large 
plantation^ what steps I would take if I had inherited 
such a property from British ancestors. I thought^ 
first, of immediately emancipating all the slayes, bnt 
I was reminded that the law humanely provides, in 
that case, that I should still support them, so that 
I might ruin myself and family, and it would still 
be a question whether those whom I had released 
from bondage would be happier, or would be pre- 
pared for freedom. I then proposed to begin with 
education as a preliminary step. Here I was met 
with the objection that, since the abolition movement 
and the fanatical exertions of missionaries, severe 
statutes had been enacted, making it penal to teach 
slaves to read and write. I must first, therefore, 
endeavour to persuade my fellow slave-holders to 
repeal these laws against improving the moral and 
intellectual condition of the slaves. I remarked that, 
in order to overcome the apathy and reluctance of 
the planters the same kind of agitation, the same 
" pressure from without," might be indispensable, 
which had brought about our West Indian eman- 
cipation. To this my American friends replied, that 
the small number of our slaves, so insignificant in 
comparison to their two and a half millions, had 


made an indemnity to the owner possible ; also that 
the free negroes^ in small islands, could always be 


held in subjection by the British fleets ; and, lastly, 
that England had a right to interfere and legislate for 
her own colonies, whereas the northern States of the 
Union, and foreigners, had no constitutional right to 
intermeddle with the domestic concerns of the slave 
States. Such intervention, by exciting the fears and 
indignation of the planters, had retarded, and must 
always be expected to retard, the progress of the 
cause. They abo reminded me how long and ob- 
stinate a struggle the West Indian proprietors had 
made against the emancipationists in the British 
House of Commons ; and they hinted, that if the 
different islands had been directly represented in 
the Lower House, and there had been Dukes of 
Jamaica, Marquises of Antigua, and Earls of Bar- 
badoes in the Upper House, as the slave states are 
represented in Congress, the measure would never 
have been carried to this day. 

The more I reflected on the condition of the slaves, 
and endeavoured to think on a practicable plan for 
hastening the period of their liberation, the more 
difficult the subject appeared to me, and the more I 
felt astonished at the confidence displayed by so 
many anti-slavery speakers and writers on both sides 
of the Atlantic. The course pursued by these 


agitators shows that^ next to the poeitiyelj wicked, 
the class who are usually called ^' well-meaiung 
persons " are the most misehievous in society. Be- 
fore the year 1830, a considerable number of the 
planters were in the habit of regarding alavery as i 
great moral and political evil, and many of then 
openly proclaimed it to be so in the Virginia debates 
of 1831-2. The emancipation party was graduaOj 
gaining ground, and not unreasonable hopes were 
entertained that the States of Kentucky, Virginia, 
and Maryland would soon fix on some future day for 
the manumission of their slaves. This step hal 
already been taken in most of the States north of 
the Potomac, and slavery was steadily retreating 
southwards. From the moment that the abolition 
movement began, and that missionaries were sent to 
the southern States, a re-action was perceived — the 
planters took the alarm — laws were passed against 
education — the condition of the slave was worse; 
and not a few of the planters, by dint of defending 
their institutions against the arguments and mis- 
representations of their assailants, came actually to 
delude themselves into a belief that slavery was 
legitimate, wise, and expedient — a positive good in 
itself. There were many, indeed, who thought dif- 
ferently, but who no longer dared to express their 
opinions freely on the subject. 


It IS natural that those planters who are of be- 
nevolent dispositions, and indulgent to their slaves, 
and who envy the northern proprietor, who, now 
that the Indians have passed away, has the good 
fortune not to share his country with another race, 
should be greatly irritated when the cruelty of the 
slave-holders, as a class, is held up to the reprobation 
of mankind. A deep sense of injustice, and a feeling 
of indignation, disinclines them to persevere in ad- 
vocating the cause of emancipation. I was so much 
occupied and absorbed in my scientific pursuits that 
I never felt tempted to touch on this esciting 
subject, and therefore, perhaps, the planters spoke 
put their sentiments to me more freely. " Laboiu*," 
they said, " is as compulsory in Europe as here ; but 
in Europe they who refuse to work have the alter- 
native of starvation ; here the slave who is idle has the 
alternative of corporal punishment ; for, whether he 
works or not, he must always be fed and clothed." 
They complained to me much of the manner in 
which the escape of runaway slaves was favoured in 
the free States. Their innocence, they said, is 
always assumed, and the cruelty and harshness of 
their owners, taken for granted ; whereas the fugitives 
often consist of good-for-nothing characters, who 
would have been put into gaol in Eiu-ope, but who 
here are left at large, because their masters are un- 


willing to lose their services bj imprisomnenti wlule 
they are compelled to support them. If the same 
delinquents, they say, were flying from the con- 
stable in a free State, the public would sympathise 
with the police and the magistrate, and if they bore 
on their backs the marks of former chastisement in 
gaol, the general desire to apprehend them would be 
still more eager. These apologies, and their as- 
surance that they found it to their interest to treat 
their slaves kindly, had no effect in inducing me to 
believe that, where such great power is intrusted to 
the owner, that power will not be frequently abused ; 
but it has made me desire to see a fair statement of 
the comparative statistics of crimes and punishments 
in slave States and free countries. If we could 
fairly estimate the misery of all offenders in the 
prisons, penitentiaries, and penal settlements of some 
large European province, and then deduct the same 
from the sufferings of the slaves in a large southern 
State of the Union, the excess alone ought, in fair- 
ness, to be laid to the charge of the slave-owners. 
While pointing out the evil unreservedly, we should 
do the owner the justice to remember that the 
system of things which we deprecate has been in- 
herited by him from his British ancestors, and that 
it is rarely possible or safe to bring about a great 
social reform in a few years. 


Had the measure of emancipating all the slaves 
been carried through as rapidly as some abolitionists 
have desired, the fate of the negroes might have 
been almost as deplorable as that of the aboriginal 
Indians. We must never forget that the slaves have 
at present a monopoly of the labour-market; the 
planters being bound to feed and clothe them, and 
being unable to turn them off and take white la- 
bourers in their place. The coloured population, 
therefore, are protected against the free competition 
of the white emigrants, with whom, if they were 
once liberated, they could no longer successfully 
contend. I am by no means disposed to assume 
that the natural capacities of the negroes, who always 
appeared to me to be an amiable, gentle, and inof- 
fensive race, may not be equal in a moral and in- 
tellectual point of view to those of the Europeans, 
provided the coloured population were placed in cir- 
cumstances equally favourable for their development. 
But it would be visionary to expect that, under any 
imaginable system, this race could at once acquire as 
much energy, and become as rapidly progressive, as 
the Anglo-Saxons. To inspire them with such an 
aptitude for rapid advancement must be the work of 
time — the result of improvement carried on through 
several successive generations. Time is precisely the 
condition for which the advocates of the immediate 


liberation of the blacks would never sufficiently al- 
low. The great experiment now making in die 
West Indies affords no parallel case, because the 
climate there is far more sultry, relaxing, and trying 
to Europeans, than in the southern States of the 
Union ; and it is well known that the West Indian 
proprietors have no choice, the whites being so few 
in number, that the services of the coloured race are 

Professor Tucker, of Virginia, has endeavoured to 
show, that the density of population in the slave 
States will amount, in about sixty years, to fifty per- 
sons in a square mile. Long before that period ar- 
rives, the most productive lands will have been all 
cultivated, and some of the inferior soils resorted to : 
the price of labour will fall gradually as compared to 
the means of subsistence, and it will, at length, be for 
the interest of the masters to liberate their slaves, and 
to employ the more economical and productive labour 
of freemen. The same causes will then come into 
operation which formerly emancipated the villeins of 
western Europe, and will one day set free the serfs 
of Russia. It is to be hoped, however, that the 
planters will not wait for more than half a century 
for such an euthanasia of the institution of slavery ; 
for the increase of the coloured population in sixty 
years would be a formidable evil, snce in this 


Instance ihej are not^ like villeins and ser&^ of the 
same race as their masters. They cannot be fiieed at 
>nce into the general mass, and become amalgamated 
vnth the whites, for their colour still remains as the 
badge of their former bondage, so that they continue, 
after their fetters are removed, to form a separate 
and inferior caste. How long this state of things 
would last must depend on their natural capabilities, 
moral, intellectual, and physical ; but if in these they 
be equal to the whites, they would eventually be- 
come the dominant race, since the climate of the 
south, more congenial to their constitutions, would 
give them a decided advantage. 

A philanthropist may well be perplexed when he 
desires to devise some plan of interference which may 
really promote the true interests of the negro. But 
the way in which the planters would best consult 
their own interests appears to me very clear. They 
should exhibit more patience and courage towards 
the abolitionists, whose influence and numbers they 
greatly over-rate, and lose no time in educating the 
slaves, arid encouraging private manumission to 
prepare the way for general emancipation. All 
seem agreed that the states most ripe for this great 
reform are Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, 
Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. Experience 



has proved in the northern States that emandipatioii 
immediately checks the increase of the . coloured 
population, and causes the relative number of die 
whites to augment very rapidly. Every year, in 
proportion as the north-western States fill up, and as 
the boundary of the new settlers in the west ii 
removed farther and farther, beyond the Mississipfi 
and IVIissouri, the cheaper and more accessible lands 
south of the Potomac wiU offer a more tempting 
field for colonisation to the swarms of New Eng- 
landers, who are averse to migrating into slaye 
states. Before this influx of white labourers, the 
coloured "race will give way, and it will require the 
watchful care of the philanthropist, whether in the 
north or south, to prevent them from being thrown 
out of employment, and reduced to destitution. 

If due exertions be made to cultivate the minds, 
and protect the rights and privileges of the negroes, 
and it nevertheless be found that they cannot con- 
tend, when free, with white competitors, but are 
superseded by them, still the cause of humanity will 
have gained. The coloured people, though their 
numbers remain stationary, or even diminish, may in 
the mean time be happier than now, and attain to 
a higher moral rank. They would, moreover, escape 
the cruelty and injustice which are the invariable 


consequences of the exercise of irresponsible power, 
especiallj. where authority must be sometimes dele- 
gated by the planter to agents of inferior education 
and coarser feelings. And last, not least, emanci- 
pation would eflfectually put a stop to the breeding, 
selling, and exporting of slaves to the sugar-growing 
States of the South, where, imless the accounts we 
usually read of slavery be exaggerated and distorted, 
the life of the negro is shortened by severe toil and 

Had the white man never interposed to trans- 
plant the negro into the New World, the most 
generous asserters of the liberties of the coloured 
race would have conceded that Africa afforded space 
enough for their development. Neither in their 
new country, nor in that of then- origin, whether 
in a condition of slavery or freedom, have they as 
yet exhibited such superior qualities and virtues as 
to make us anxious that additional millions of them 
should multiply in the southern States of the 
Union; still less, that they should overflow into 
Texas and Mexica 

& 2 

196 WILiaNGTON. Chap. L 


Wilmingtonj N, C — Mount Vernon. — Betum to PhUaddphia^ 
Receptian of Mr, Dicketu. — Muiewn and fossil human bomL 
Penitentiary, — Churches, — Religious excitement, — Cdhwrti 
people of fortune, — Obstacles to their obtaining political and 
social equality, — No natural antipathy between the races,'^ 
Negro reservations, 

Jan. 22. — I NOW turned my course northwards, 
and, after a short voyage in a steamer from Charles- 
ton, landed at Wilmington, in North Carolina. 
Here I collected fossils from tertiary formations of 
two ages, the Miocene marls, and an underlying 
Eocene limestone, harder than that of Shell Bluff 
and the Santee canal before mentioned; but con- 
taining many of the same shells, corals, and teeth of 
fishes. I then went by railway to South Washing- 
ton, visiting several farms on the banks of the north- 
east branch of Cape Fear river. Here I found 
cretaceous green marls, similar to those which I had 
seen 350 miles to the N. E. in New Jersey, with 
belemnites and other characteristic organic remains, 
some of species not previously known. 

On several of the small plantations here I found 
the proprietors by no means in a thriving state, 


evidently losing ground from year to year, and some 
of them talking of abandoning the exhausted soil, 
and migrating with their slaves to the south-western 
States. If, while large numbers of the negroes were 
thus carried to the South, slavery had been abolished 
in North Carolina, the black population might ere 
this have been reduced considerably in numbers, 
without suffering those privations to which a free 
competition with white laboiu*ers must expose them, 
wherever great facilities for emigration are not 

A railway train shooting rapidly in the dark 
through the pine forests of North Carolina has a 
most singular appearance, resembling a large rocket 
fired horizontally, with a brilliant stream of revolving 
sparks extending behind the engine for several 
hundred yards, each spark being a minute particle of 
wood, which, after issuing from the chimney of the 
furnace, remains ignited for several seconds in the air. 
Now and then these fiery particles, which are in- 
visible by day, instead of laggmg in the rear, find 
entrance by favour of the wind through the open 
windows of the car, and, while some bum holes in 
the traveller's cloak, others make their way into his 
eyes, causing them to smart most painfully. 

From the deck of our steam-boat on the Potomac 
we saw Mount Vernon, formerly the plantation of 

K 3 


1 98 H. NICOLLET. Chap. X 

General Washington. Instead of exhibiting, like 
the farms in the northern States, a lively picture of 
progress and improvement, this property was de- 
seribed to me by all as worn out, and of less value 
now than in the days of its iUustrious owner. The 
bears and wolves, they say, are actually re-entering 
their ancient haimts, which would scarcely have 
happened if slavery had been abolished in Yirginia. 

At Petersburg, Mr. Ruffin, the agriculturist, and 
Mr. Tuomey, accompanied me in an excursion to col- 
lect tertiary fossils in the neighbourhood, and I 
examined with much instruction the organic remains 
in their cabinets. At Washington I saw M. Nicollet, 
and had a long conversation with this eminent astro- 
nomer and naturalist, who died the year after. He 
had just returned from a geographical and geological 
survey of the Far West, and higher parts of the 
valley of the Mississippi and Missouri. He showed 
me the ammonites, baculites, and other chalk fossils 
brought by him from those distant regions, which 
establish the wide range of that peculiar assemblage 
of organic remains characteristic of the cretaceous 

The air was balmy on the Potomac the last day of 
January, and the winter had been so mild in the 
southern States, that we were surprised, on recrossing 
the Susquehanna at Havre de Grdce in Maryland, to 


see large masses of floating ice brought down from 
the Appalachian hills, and to feel the air sensibly 
cooled while we were ferried over the broad river. 
It struck me as a curious coincidence, and one not 
entirely accidental, that, precisely in this part of our 
journey, I once more saw the low grounds covered 
with huge boulders, reminding me how vast a ter- 
ritory in the South I had passed over without encoun- 
tering a single erratic block. These far transported 
fragments of rock are decidedly a northern pheno- 
menon, or belong to the colder latitudes of the 
globe, being rare and exceptional in warmer regions. 
Philadelphia, Feb. 1. — The newspapers are filled 
with accounts of the enthusiastic reception which 
Mr. Charles Dickens is meeting with every where. 
Such homage has never been paid to any foreigner 
since Lafayette visited the States. The honours may 
appear extravagant, but it is in the nature of popular 
enthusiasm to run mto excess. I find that several of 
my American friends are less disposed than I am to 
sympathise with the movement, regarding it as more 
akin to Uon-huntmg than hero-worship. They ex- 
press a doubt whether Walter Scott, had he visited 
the U. S., would have been so much idolised 
Perhaps not ; for Scott's poems and romances were 
less extensively circulated amongst the millions than 
the tales of Dickens. There may be no precedent in 

K 4 


Great Britain for a whole people thus unreservedly 
indulging their feelings of admiration for a &yourite 
author ; but if bo» the Americans deserve the more 
credit for obejring their warm impulses. Of course 
many who attend the foreigner's crowded levee are 
merely gratifying a vulgar curiosity by staring at an 
object of notoriety ; but none but a very inteUigent 
population could be thus carried away to flatter and 
applaud a man who has neither rank^ wealthy nor 
power, who is not a military hero oor a celebrated 
political character, but simply a writer of genius, 
whose pictures of men and manners, and whose 
works of fiction, have been here, as in his own coun- 
try, an inexhaustible source of interest and amuse- 

When at FhiladeljJiiia I was present at several 
meetings of the American Philosophical Society, and 
of the Academy of Natural Sciences. In the mu- 
seum of the former body I was shown a limestone 
from Santas, in Brazil, procured by Captain Elliott, 
of the U. S. navy, which contains a human skull, 
teeth, and other bones, together with fragments 
of shells, some of them retaining a portion of their 
colour. The rock is less solid than that of Guada- 
loupe, which it resembles. We are informed, that the 
remains of several hundred other human skeletons, 
imbedded in a like calcareous tufa, were dug out at 


the same place^ about the year 1827.* The soil 
covering the solid stone supported a growth of large 
trees, which covered the face of a hill on the side of 
the river Santas. The height above the sea is not 
mentioned, and it is to be regretted that the notes 
obtained by Dr. Meigs from Captain Elliott were 
not fuller. I observed serpulae in the rock, a shell 
which the natives would not have carried inland for 
food. On the whole, therefore, I should infer, though 
we need further evidence, that this stone has emerged 
from the sea, and that there had been previously a 
submergence of dry land, perhaps the site of an 
Indian burial-ground. 

Dr. Harlan, the zealous and accomplished osteo- 
logist, who, to my great regret, died the year after 
(1843), at New Orleans, took me to see the entire 
skeleton of the large fossil mastodon, or so-called 
MissoTuium, brought by Mr. Koch from the state of 
Missouri. He pointed out several errors in the 
manner in which the tusks and bones were put to- 
gether. This splendid fossil has since been pur- 
chased by the British Museum, taken to pieces in 
London, and correctly set up again under the di- 
rection of Mr. Owen. It is the largest individual of 
• the species {Mastodon giganteus) yet discovered ; for 

* American Philosopliical Transactions, 1828, p. 285. 

K 5 


Dr. Harlan and I compared the femur with that of 
the largest mastodon preyiously known^ from the state 
of New York, and preserved in Peale's Museum in 
this city. The dunensions of the Philadelphia ske- 
leton are less gigantic. 

I spent six weeks verjr agreeably in this city, much 
of my time being occupied in delivering a short 
course of lectures on geology, and in comparingy 
with the friendly aid of several naturalists, especiallj 
^Ir. Conrad, the fossils collected by me in the South 
with those previously known, most of which are pre- 
served in the public and private cabinets here. Mr. 
Lea's collection of shells, whidi we visited more 
than once, rich in the fluviatile species of North 
America, was most interesting to me. There seems 
no end to the freshwater mussels of the genus 
UniOy as well as other fluviatile forms, such as Me- 
laniay which have been created to people the waters 
of a continent unrivalled in the number of its rivers, 
all so copiously filled with water during every sea- 
son of the year. Such an obvious relation of the 
zoological to the geographical peculiarities of a great 
region is striking, and reminds the geologist of the 
different states of the animal creation, which have 
accompanied the successive changes of the earth's 
surface in former ages. The same species of Unio^ 
and of other fresh-water shells, preserved in a fossil 


state in alluvial strata, forming terraces one above 
the other to a considerable height above the Mis- 
sissippi and its tributaries, show that the fauna here 
alluded to, so modern in the earth's history, is never- 
theless of high antiquity, and has outlasted some 
importaut modifications in the shape of the valleys 
and levels of the North American streams. 

We were taken to see the Penitentiary at 
Philadelphia, where all the prisoners are confined 
in separate cells. They see the keepers, chaplain, 
and occasional visiters, by which the rigour of their 
solitude is mitigated. They are taught to read, and 
have numerous occupations. If we recollect that 
this establishment is not an asylum for the poor, 
aged, and destitute, like our workhouses, but a place 
for the punishment and reform of criminals, we may 
regard it as a hmnane institution, and it appeared to 
me admirably managed. 

A few years ago, an American professor being 
asked at the end of a short stay in London whether 
he had been pleased with his reception, said he had 
been often invited out to dinner, but no one during 
his whole stay had offered him a seat in their pew 
in church. At Philadelphia, besides other kinds of 
hospitality, we had certainly no reason to complain 
of any want of attention in this respect, for we had 
pressing invitations to private pews in no less than 

K 6 

204 CHUBCHXS. Chap. 1 

six different episcopal churches soon after oui 
arrival, of which we availed ourselves on as many 
successive Sundays, and were struck with the 
handsome style of the buildings, and the comfortable 
fitting up of the pews. In regard to the preaching 
in these and in most of the Episcopalian, Presby- 
terian, Baptist, and Unitarian churches which 1 
entered in the United States, I thought it good, 
and there seemed to me to be two great advantages 
at least in the volimtary principle: first, that the 
ministers are in no danger of going to sleep; and, 
secondly, that they concern themselves much less 
with politics than is the case with us. To be without 
a body of dissenters, dissatisfied with their exclusion 
from ecclesiastical endowments, is a national blessing, 
which not only every statesman, but every church- 
man, will admit. I am by no means prepared to 
say whether there may not be a balance of evil in 
the voluntary system sufficient to outweigh the 
gain alluded to. While here, I heard complaints 
of the religious excitement into which the city had 
been just thrown by the arrival of a popular New 
England preacher, who attracted such crowds that 
at length all the sittings of his church were mo- 
nopolized by the fair sex. American gallantry 
forbids that a woman should remain standing while 
gentlemen are comfortably seated in their pews, so 


that at last the men were totally excluded. Notice 
was immediately given that certain services were 
to be entirely reserved for the men^ an announcement 
well calculated to provoke curiosity, and to tempt 
many a stray sheep from other folds. It was then 
thought expedient for the ministers of rival sects 
to redouble their zeal, that they might not be left 
behind in the race, and even the sober Episcopalians, 
though highly disapproving of the movement, 
increased the number of their services; so that I 
was assured it would be possible for the same 
individual between the hours of seven o'clock in the 
morning and nine in the evening, to go seven times 
to church in one day. The consequences are too 
like those occasionally experienced 'in the " old 
country," where enthusiasm is not kindled by so much 
free competition, to be worth dwelling upon. Every 
day added new recruits to a host of ascetic devotees, 
and places of public amusement were nearly deserted ; 
at last even the innocent indulgence of social 
intercourse was not deemed blameless ; and the men 
who had generally escaped the contagion in the midst 
of their professional avocations, found a gloom cast 
over society or over their domestic circle. The 
young ladies, in particular, having abundance of 
leisure, were filled with a lively sense of their own 


exceeding wickedness^ and the sins of their parenls 
and guardians. 

ISIany of the most respectable Quaker families 
have recently joined the Episcopal churchy whidi 
is very flourishing here^ not onlj in this city, but 
in the United States generally, haying quadrupled 
its numbers in a period during which the population 
of the Union has only doubled. It is true that 
immediately after the revolutionary war^ whenthia 
form of worship was identified with royalist opinionfi, 
and when not a few of its professors left the country 
for Canada, Nova Scotia, or the mother country, 
the Episcopal establishment was depressed below its 
natural leveL Its reviyal and rapid progress are 
nevertheless remarkable in this republican country, 
and are perhaps partly owing to the possession of 
large endowments, especially in the State of New 
York, rendering it less dependent on voluntary 
contributions, and partly to the better station of 
the foreign immigrants from Great Britain belonging 
to the Anglican church. 

I am assured, that if the salaries paid to the 
whole clergy of all sects in the Union are compared 
to those of the ministers of any other church in the 
world they will be found to be in excess in pro- 
portion to the population. Whether this be true 
or not, there is certainly no lack of divinity schools, 


nor of ecclesiastical buildings, nor of crowded congre- 
gations, the men being as regular in their attendance 
as the women; and the rapidity with which new 
churches spring up in the wilderness is probably 
without example elsewhere. 

A rare event, the death of a wealthy man of colour, 
took place during my stay here, and his funeral was 
attended not only by a crowd of persons of his own 
race, but also by many highly respectable white mer- 
chants, by whom he was held in high esteem. He had 
made his fortune as a sail-maker, and is said to have 
been worth, at one time, sixty thousand pounds, but 
to have lost a great part of his riches by lending 
money with more generosity than prudence. I was 
rejoicing that his colour had proved no impediment to 
his rising in the world, and that he had been allowed 
so much fair play as to succeed in over-topping the 
majority of his white competitors, when I learnt, on 
further inquiry, that, after giving an excellent edu- 
cation to his children, he had been made unhappy, by 
finding they must continue, in spite of all their ad- 
vantages, to belong to an inferior caste. It appeared 
that, not long before his death, he had been especially 
mortified, because two of his sons had been refused a 
hearing at a public meeting, where they wished to 
speak on some subject connected with trade which 
concerned them. 


In many states, the free blacks- have yotes, and 
exert their privilege at elections^ yet there is not an 
instance of a single man of colour, although eligiUe 
by law, haying been chosen a member of any state 
legislature. The schools for the coloured population 
at Boston are well managed, and the black children 
are said to show as much quickness in learning as 
the whites. To what extent their faculties might be 
developed as adults we have as yet no means of 
judging ; for if their first efforts are coldly received, or 
treated with worse than indifference, as in the case of 
the young Philadelphians before alluded to, it is im- 
possible that the higher kinds of excellence can be 
reached in literature, the learned professions, or in 
a political career. If any individual be gifted with 
finer genius than the rest, his mind will be the more 
sensitive to discouragement, especially when it pro- 
ceeds from a race whose real superiority over his co- 
loured fellow-citizens, in their present condition, he 
of all others would be the first to appreciate. It is 
after many trials attended with success, and followed 
by willing praise and applause, that self-confidence 
and intellectual power are slowly acquired; and no 
well educated black has ever yet had an opportunity 
of ripening or displaying superior talents in this or any 
other civilised country. Canada and Ireland teach us 
how much time and how many generations are re- 


quired for the blending together, on terms of perfect 
equality, both social and political, of two nations, the 
conquerors and the conquered, even where both are of 
the same race, and decidedly equal in their natural 
capacities, though differing in reUgion, manners, and 
language. But when, in the same community, we 
have two races so distinct in their physical peculiari- 
ties as to cause many naturalists, who have no desire 
to disparage the negro, to doubt whether both are of 
the same species, and started originally from the same 
stock ; when one of these, found in Africa in a savage 
and unprogressive state, has been degraded, by those 
who first colonized North America, to the lowest 
place in the social scale — to expect, under such a 
combination of depressing circumstances, that, in half 
a century, and in a coimtry where more than six 
sevenths of the race are still held in bondage, the 
newly emancipated citizens should, under any form of 
government, attain at once a position of real equality, 
is a dream of the visionary philanthropist, whose 
impracticable schemes are more likely to injure than 
to forward a great cause. 

In the West Indies, where circumstances are far 
more favourable to a fair experiment, we have found 
how much easier it is to put an end to slavery than 
to elevate the blacks to an equal standing with the 
whites in society, and in the management of public 


affairs. They are however advancing slowly; and, 
although we hear complaints of commercial losses, 
consequent on emancipation^ and of exports of sugar 
and coffee falling off, there seems little doubt that tk 
negro population, comprising the great bulk of the 
inhabitants, are better informed, better clothed, and 
happier, in their own way, than during the period 
when all were slaves. A gradual transfer of land is 
going on in Barbadoes, Jamaica, and other large 
islands, from the original proprietors to the n^oes, 
who are abandoning the cultivation of sugar, and 
raising such crops and fruits of the earth as they .can 
obtain with moderate labour. There has not been 
time to ascertain whether the freed men will ever have 
aspirations after that higher civilization, which dis- 
tinguishes a few of the more advanced among the 
nations of western Europe ; but this problem has still 
to be solved with regard to the Chinese and many 
other large sections of the human family. 

The near approach to universal suffrage in the 
United States appears to me one of the most serious 
obstacles, both to the disfranchisement of the slaves 
in the South, and to their obtaining, when freed, a 
proper station relatively to the whites. Wherever 
property confers the right of voting, the men of 
colour can at once be admitted without danger to an 
absolute equality of political rights, the more in- 


dustrious alone becoming invested with privileges 
which are withheld from the indigent and most 
worthless of the dominant race. Such a recognition 
of rights not only raises the negroes in their opinion 
of themselves, but, what is of far more consequence, 
accustoms a portion of the other race to respect them. 
In the free states, we were often painfully reminded of 
the wide chasm which now separates the whites from 
the emancipated man of colour. 

If there be any place where distinctions of birth, 
wealth, station, and race should be forgotten, it 
is the temple where the Christian precept is incul- 
cated that all men are equal before God. * On one 
occasion In New England, when we were attending 
the administration of the sacrament in an Epis* 
copal church, we saw all the white communicants 
first come forward, and again retire to thehr pews, 
before any of the coloured people advanced, most of 
whom were as well dressed as ourselves, and some 
only a shade darker in complexion. In another 
Episcopal church in New York, the order and sanctity 
of the service was, for a moment, in danger of being 
disturbed because some of the whites had been 
accidentally omitted, so that they came to the altar 
after the coloured communicants. After a slight 
confusion, however, our feelings were relieved by 
the officiating minister proceeding and showing his 
resolution not to allow any interruption from this 


accident I had no opportimity of witnesdng the 
good example said to be set by the Roman Catholic 
clergy in prohibiting all invidious distinctions in 
their churches ; but we know in Europe how mudi 
more the poor and the rich are mingled togetli^ 
indifferently in the performance of their devotioDs in 
Romanist churches than in most of the Anglo-pro- 
testant congr^ations. 

The extent to which the Americans carry their 
repugnance to all association with the coloured race 
on equal terms remained to the last an enigma to 
me. They feel^ for example^ an insurmountable 
objection to sit down to the same table with a well- 
dressed, well-informed, and well-educated man of 
colour, while the same persons would freely welcome 
one of their own race of meaner capacity and ruder 
maimers to boon companionship. I have no doubt 
that if I remained here for some years I should 
imbibe the same feelings, and sympathise with what 
now appears to me an almost incomprehensible pre- 
judice. If the repugnance arose from any physical 
causes, any natural antipathy of race, we should not 
see the rich Southerners employing black slaves to 
wait on their persons, prepare their food, nurse and 
suckle their white children, and live with them as 
mistresses. We should never see the black lady's 
mfdd sitting in the same carriage with her mistress. 



and supporting her when fatigued, and last, though 
not least, we should not meet with a numerous 
mixed breed springing up every where from the 
union of the two races. 

We must seek then for other causes of so general 
and powerful a nature as to be capable of influencing 
almost equally the opinions of thirteen millions of 
men. We well know that the abolition of villeinage 
and serfdom has never enabled the immediate de- 
scendants of freed-men, however rich, talented, and 
individually meritorious, to intermarry and be re- 
ceived on a footing of perfect equality with the best 
families of their country, or with that class on which 
their fathers were recently dependent. If in Europe 
there had been some indelible mark of ancestral 
degradation, some livery, handed down indefinitely 
from one generation to another, like the colour of the 
African, there is no saying how long the most galling 
disabilities of the villein would have survived the 
total abolition by law of personal servitude. But, 
fortunately, in Western Europe, the slaves belonged 
to the same race as their masters, whereas, in the 
United States, the negro cannot throw off the livery 
which betrays to the remotest posterity the low 
condition of his forefathers. 

There are Indian reservations, and I often asked 
why there should not be also negro reservations, or 


large territories set apart for free blacks, where thej 
might form independent states or communities. It 
would be proper to select those districts where the 
climate is insalubrious to Europeans, but where the 
blacks are perfectly healthy. I was assured that no 
scheme could be more Utopian — that the n^roes, 
if left to themselves, would abandon the cultivation 
of sugar, cotton, and all the crops most appropriate 
to such lands. All this I can conceive; but my friends 
went on to object that the negroes would soon 
sink into savage life, and make marauding expeditions 
beyond their frontier. I have no doubt that if the 
two parties were left without a powerful check, some 
attempt would soon be made at territorial encroach- 
ments, but it is easy to foresee which party would be 
the formidable aggressor. 



Philadelphia, — Financial crisis. — Payment of State dividends 
suspended, — General distress and private losses of the Ame- 
ricans. — Deht of Pennsylvania. — Public works. — Direct 
taxes. — Deficient revenue. — Bad faith and confiscation. — 
Jrresponsible executive. — Loan refused by European capi- 
talists in 1842. — Good faith of Congress during the war of 
1812-14. — Effects of universal suffrage. — Fraudulent voting. 
— Aliens. — Solvency and good faith of the majority of the 
States. — Confidence of American capitalists. — Reform of 
the electoral body. — General progress of society, and prospects 
of the republic. 

PhiladeJphiay January to Marchy 1842. — Wishing 
to borrow some books at a circulating library, I 
presented several dollar notes as a deposit. At 
home there might have been a ringing of coin upon 
the counter, to ascertain whether it was true or coun- 
terfeit ; here the shopwoman referred to a small 
pamphlet, re-edited *^ semi-monthly," called a " De- 
tector," and containing an interminable list of banks 
in all parts of the Union, with information as to 
their present condition, whether solvent or not, and 
whether paying in specie, and adding a description 
of " spurious notes." ALfter a slight hesitation, the 
perplexed librarian shook her head, and declaring 
her belief that my notes were as good as any others. 


Bidd> if I would pronuse to take tihiem back again on 
my return, and pay her in cash, I might have the 

It often happened that when we oflfered to buy 
articles of small value in shops, or fruit in the 
market, the venders declined to have any dealings 
with us, unless we paid in specie. They remarked 
that their change might in a few days be worth 
more than our paper. Many farmers and gardeners 
are ceasing to bring their produce to market, although 
the crops are very abimdant, and prices are rising 
higher and higher, as if the city was besieged. My 
American friends, anxious that I should not be a 
loser, examined all my dollar notes, and persuaded 
me, before I set out on my travels, to convert them 
into gold, at a discount of eight per cent. In less 
than four weeks after this transaction, there was a 
general return to cash payments, and the four banks 
by which the greater part of my paper had been 
issued, all failed. 

A parallel might perhaps be found for a crash 
of this kind in the commercial and financial history 
of England, or at least in some of her colonies, 
Australia, for example, where the unbounded facility 
afforded to a new country of borrowing the super- 
abundant capital of an old one, has caused a sudden 
rise in the value of lands, houses, and goods, and 


promoted the maddest speculations. But an event 
now occurred of a different and far more serious 
nature. One morning we were told that the 
Governor of Pennsylvania had come in great haste 
from Harrisburg, in consequence of the stoppage of 
one of the banks in the city, in which were lodged 
the funds intended for the payment of dividends on 
state bonds, due in a few days. On this emergency 
he endeavoured to persuade other banks to advance 
the money, but in vain ; such was the general alarm, 
and feeling of insecurity. The consequent necessity 
of a delay of payment was announced, and many 
native holders of stock expressed to me their fears, 
that although they might obtain the dividend then 
actually due, it might be long before they received 
another. At the same time they declared their 
conviction, that the resources of the State, if well 
managed, were ample; and that, if it depended 
on the more affluent merchants of Philadelphia, and 
the richer portion of the middle class generally, 
to impose and pay the taxes, the honour of Penn- 
sylvania would not be compromised. 

It was painful to witness the ruin and distress 
occasioned by this last blow, following, as it did, so 
many previous disasters. Men advanced in years, 
and retired from active life, after success in business, 
or at the bar, or after military service, too old to 



migrate with their families to the West, and begm 
the world again, are left destitute; many widows 
and single women have lost their all, and great 
numbers of the poorer classes are deprived of 
their savings. An erroneous notion prevails in 
England that the misery created by these bank- 
ruptcies is confined chiefly to foreigners, but, in fad^ 
many of the poorest citizens of Pennsylvania, and 
of other States, had invested money in these securities. 
In 1844, or two years after my stay in Philadelphia, 
the Savings' Bank of New York presented a petition 
to the legislatiu*e at Harrisburg for a resumption 
of payment of dividends, in which it was stated that 
their bank then held 300,000 dollars, and had held 
800,000, but was obliged to sell 500,000 at a 
great depreciation, in order to pay the claimants, 
who were compelled by the distress of the times to 
withdraw their deposits. 

The debt of Pennsylvania amoimted to about 
8,000,000Z. sterling, nearly two thirds of which 
was held by British owners ; and as a majority of 
these belonged to that party which always indulged 
the most sanguine hopes of the prospects of the 
American republic, and estimated most highly the 
private worth of the people and their capacity for 
self-government, they suffered doubly, being dis- 
appointed alike in their pecuniary speculations and 


their political views. It was natural, therefore, 
that a re-action of feeling should embitter their minds, 
and incline them to magnify and exaggerate the 
iniquity of that conduct which had at once impugned 
the soundness of their judgment, and inflicted a 
severe injury on their fortunes. Hence, not a few 
of them, confounding together the different States, 
have represented all the Americans as little better 
than swindlers, who, having defrauded Europe of 
many millions sterling, were enjoying tranquilly and 
with impunity the fruits of their knavery. The 
public works executed with foreign capital are 
supposed by many in England to yield a large profit 
on the outlay, which is not the case in any one of 
the delinquent States. 

The loss or temporary suspension of the interest 
even of one third of the above-mentioned debt, 
in a country like Pennsylvania, where there is a 
small amount of capital to invest, and that belonging 
chiefly to persons incapable of exerting themselves 
to make money, a country where property is so 
much divided, and where such extensive failures 
had preceded this crisis, inflicts a far deeper wound 
on the happiness of the community, than the de- 
falcation of a much larger sum in Great Britain 
would occasion. 

When we inquire into the circumstances which have 

L 2 


involved the Pennsylvanians in their present diflScul- 
ties> we shall find that^ disgraceful as their conduct has 
been, their iniquity is neither so great, nor the pros- 
pect of their affidrs righting themselves so desperate, 
as might at first sight be supposed. Every holder 
of Pennsylvanian bonds is undoubtedly entitled to 
assume that ^^ there's something rotten in the state 
of Denmark,'* and to observe to any traveller who 
extenuates the delinquency of the State, ^* the better 
you think of the people, the worse opinion you must 
entertain of their institutions." How, under a repre- 
sentative form of government, can such events occur 
in time of peace, and, moreover, in a state so wealthy, 
that an income tax of 1^^ per cent would yield 
the two millions of dollars required*, and where the 
interest on the bonds was not usurious nor unusual 
in America — unless the majority of the electors 
be corrupt or grossly ignorant ? 

It appears that in the year 1831, when Pennsyl- 
vania borrowed a large siun for making railways 
and canals, she imposed direct taxes for seven years, 
for the express purpose of regularly paying the 
interest of her debt. It was hoped, from the 
experience of New York, that, at the expiration of 
that term of years, the public works would become 
sufficiently profitable to render it unnecessary to 
* Tucker's Progress of the U. S. 1843. p. 210. 


renew the tax. The inhabitants went on paying 
until the year 1836, when the government thought 
itself justified in remitting the burden, on being 
unexpectedly enriched by several large sums from 
various sources. In that year they received for 
granting a charter to the U. S. Bank of Pennsyl- 
vania 2,600,000 doUars, and 2,800,000 more for 
their share of monies which had accumulated in the 
treasury of the Federal Government, arising out of 
the sale of public lands, and then divided among the 
States. It was calculated that these fimds would last 
for three years, and that the public works would 
by that time yield a revenue sufficient to defray 
the interest of the sum laid out on executing them. 

That the legislature should have seized the first 
opportunity of relieving their constituents from the 
direct taxes will astonish no one who has perused the 
printed paper of the tax-assessor in Pennsylvania, 
which every one is required to fill up. The 
necessity of ascertaining the means of persons 
possessed of small property renders the questions 
exceedingly minute and inquisitoriaL From a 
variety of others, I extract the following: — ** What 
is the amount of your monies loaned on mortgage, 
and the debts due to you by solvent debtors?" 
" What interest do they pay?" ** What shares do 
you hold in any bank or company in any other State?" 

L 3 


How many pleasure carriages do you keep?" 
How many watches do you own? — are they gold 
or silver?'' and so forth. 

Soon after the ill-judged remission of this tax, 
a great combination of circumstances led to over- 
trading, and the most extravagant schemes of money- 
making. The United States' Bank, during its 
controversy with President Jackson, had accuniulated 
a large amount of specie, and lent it out most 
lavishly and imprudently; and when it obtained 
its new charter from Pennsylvania, it again promoted 
loans of all kinds, which gave an inordinate stimulus 
to speculation. Some of the great London banks, 
at the same time, gave credit to a prodigious amoimt, 
often without sufficient caution; and when they 
were compelled to withdraw this credit suddenly, 
they had not time to distinguish which of their 
creditors were worthy of confidence. A great fire 
in New York, in 1834, had annihilated property to 
the value of six millions sterling. After the United 
States' Bank had ceased to be connected with the 
Federal Government, many other States, besides 
Pennsylvania, granted charters to banks, which led to 
an over-issue of notes, and a hot-bed forcing of trade 
throughout the Union. Then came, in 1839, the 
miserable expedient of authorizing banks to suspend 
cash payments, and in 1841, the stoppage of the 


great TJ. S. Bank of Pennsylvania, followed by a 
general panic and financial crisis. 

It is necessary to reflect on these events, in 
order to understand how the insolvency of Penn- 
sylvania was brought about; but no American 
writer or statesman of any character pretends to 
excuse or palliate the conduct of her legislature 
in 1839, 1840, and 1841. In these years, there was 
an actual excess in the ordinary expenditure of the 
State for the purposes of government and education, 
over the receipts from all sources of revenue, ex- 
cept the public works. The proceeds of these last 
were appropriated to the payment of the interest of 
the debt, for which they were lamentably insufficient. 
In what manner were these various deficits provided 
for ? Not by the imposition of new burdens, but by 
borrowing, and adding annually to the public debt. 
The party in power shrank from the unpopularity of 
laying on new taxes ; and the slight share of discredit 
incurred by them at the time, for this glaring act of 
bad faith, places in a strong light the mischief arising 
from the small power here confided to the executive. 
The Governor tells the Houses that there is a defi- 
ciency in the revenue, and they are left to make the 
best of it, and appoint a committee of ways and means, 
composed usually of members .very incompetent as 
financiers. It is for them to consider what is to be 

L 4 


done ; there is no experienced official Minister of 
Finance^ no chancellor of the exchequer^ whose duty 
it is to come forward with a budget^ and declare^like 
the English minister in 1842 : — " Here is an income* 
tax, to which you must submit, or we resign.*^ The 
jealousy on the part of the people, and their fears of 
the abuses of a strong executive, have induced them 
to circumscribe its powers so much, that they bare 
virtually deprived it of all responsibility. In their 
attempt to avoid one evil, they have fallen into 
another as great, if not greater. 

The resources of the country were so paralyzed In 
1842, amidst the general wreck, and crash of commer- 
cial houses and banks, that the suspension of the pay- 
ment of one or two State dividends had become 
imavoidable ; but the non-payment even of a fraction 
of the Interest In 1843-4, during a period of re^dvlng 
prosperity and sound currency, reflects no small dis- 
grace on the people, or discredit on the nature of 
their Institutions. 

It appears that In the year 1841, before the 
regular payment of dividends was suspended, a 
new property tax was Imposed, which came into play 
in 1842, and yielded to the State 486,000 dollars; 
and 558,000 more In 1843, and an additional sum in 
1844, of 755,000 dollars. These returns being inade- 
quate, a new tax was laid on in 1844, with more 
stringent regulations for enforcing its collection, and 


it is now expected (December, 1844) that the public 
creditor, whose arrears of unpaid dividends have, in 
the mean time, been funded, will receive his due. 
But how many bondholders have been already obliged 
to sell out, while others are dead and gone, so that 
restitution to all becomes impossible ; and thus, to a 
certain extent, an irretrievable act of confiscation has 
been perpetrated ! 

Let us now consider how far these evils can be 
attributed to causes of so general, lasting, and deep- 
seated a nature, as to have justified the monied men 
of England and the Continent, in 1842, in the dis- 
trust manifested by them of the good faith of the whole 
Union. Such a want of confidence was displayed 
when the agent of the Federal Government failed 
to obtain in Europe a loan of a few millions sterling 
offered on very advantageous terms. 

On referring to the history of the United States, 
during the present century, we find that in the course 
of the war of 1812 — 1814, the nation had incurred a 
debt about equal to that now owing (1844) by all 
the delinquent States. A proposal was twice made 
in Congress to discontinue the payment of dividends 
to the English creditors, on the ground that they 
weige enemies. On both occasions, the proposal was 
rejected, as dishonest, and with marked expressions 
of disapprobation; at a time when direct taxes levied by 

L 5 


the Federal Government pressed heavy on the people. 
The debt went on increasing after the close of the war, 
but was at length entirely paid off in 1835. These 
transactions raised the character of American secu- 
rities throughout Europe ; and the altered tone of 
feeling evinced in 1842 is the more remarkable, 
as it occurred in a time of profound peace^ when 
there was no immediate anticipation of war, and 
when it was well known that between the years 
1812 and 1842, the wealth and territory of the 
confederacy had increased enormously, and the popu- 
lation more than doubled. In fact, the advance in 
the number of the inhabitants in this short interval 
was from eight to eighteen millions ; the excess alone 
amounting to more than the population of all England 
at the conmiencement of the present century. 

It cannot be denied that the course of events 
during the thirty years above alluded to has afforded 
grounds of anxiety to those who admire republican 
institutions and to every well-wisher of the prosperity 
of the Union. They who would make a permanent in- 
vestment of money in U. S. stock must anticipate the 
possibility of war, and of a consequent reduction of 
revenue from the customs. If it then became necessary 
to lay on direct taxes, we have to consider, whether a 
majority of all the citizens would be likely to evince as 
much repugnance to pay their dividends punctually to 


foreign and domestic creditors as the Pennsylvanians 
and Marylanders have recently shown. If it has 
required several years to rouse the electors of these 
ancient States to a sense of their duty and honour, 
would the consciences of the new settlers in ruder 
and less advanced communities, constituting a large 
portion of the Union, be more sensitive ? 

As politicians, no people are so prone t6 give way 
to groundless fears and despondency respecting the 
prospects of aflfeirs in America as the English, partly 
because they know little of the condition of society 
there, and partly from their own well-founded convic- 
tion, that a near approach to universal suffrage at home 
would lead to anarchy and insecurity of property. 
To divide the land equally among all, to make an 
" equitable adjustment" of the national debt, or, in 
other words, to repudiate, are propositions gravely dis- 
cussed at Chartist meetings, and even embodied in nu- 
merously signed petitions to parliament. The majority 
even of the democratic party in the U. S. would 
probably assent to the opinion, that in England, 
where there is so much actual want, where one tenth 
of the population, or 1,500,000 persons, receive pa- 
rochial relief, where education has made such slow 
progress among the poor, and where there is no out- 
let in the Far West, no safety-valve for the escape 
of the redundant inhabitants, it would be most dan- 

L 6 


gerous to entrust eyery adult male with llie li^ 
of voting. Yet in America they think the experi- 
ment a safe one, or even contend that it has suc- 
ceeded. But not a few of the opposite party, how- 
ever inexpedient and useless they may think it to 
agitate the question, agree with the majority of 
European politicians in considering that it has low- 
ered and deteriorated the character of the electoral 

It is undeniable that the rapidity with which the 
native population has multiplied throughout the 
Union, and still more the influx of aliens into every 
State, has had a tendency to cause the whole country 
to resemble a new colony, rather than an old and 
long-established nation. Not oidy many new Terri- 
tories and States, but even some of the old ones, 
such as New York and Pennsylvania, contain so 
much unoccupied land that they are full of adven- 
turers and speculators from other parts of America, 
and of new-comers from Europe, speaking diffe- 
rent languages, often cherishing foreign prejudices, 
and disturbing the equilibrium of native parties, 
founded on broad and distinct views of home policy. 
I have already remarked, that, on the southern fron- 
tier of the State of New York (p. 59.), I saw the native 
forest yielding as fast to the axe of the new settler, as 
if we had penetrated to the Far West, or the back 


woods of Canada. When we turn to her northern 
confines, we learn from the Eeports of the Geological 
Surveyors employed by government in 1837, and 
subsequent years, that in Essex County and else- 
where they had recourse to Indian guides in a path- 
less wilderness, encoimtered panthers and moose-deer, 
found the beaver still lingering in some streams, saw 
lakes before undescribed, and measured the height of 
mountains for the first time. During my short so- 
journ in the metropolis of that State,^ I witnessed, 
among other illustrations of the heterogeneous com- 
position of its people, a grand Repeal demonstration, 
an endless procession of Irish parading the streets, 
with portraits of O'Connell emblazoned on their 
banners, and various mottoes, implying that their 
thoughts were occupied with party questions of 
British, not of American politics. A large number 
of these aliens have, contrary to old usage, been of 
late years invested with electoral rights ; and can- 
didates for places in the magistracy, or the legisla- 
ture, are degraded by paying court to their sympa- 
thies and ignorant prejudices. This temptation is 
too strong to be resisted ; for, small as may be their 
numbers when compared with the native voters, they 
often turn the scale in an election where the great 
constitutional parties are very nearly balanced. 
In addition to some of these evils, Pennsylvania 


labours under the disadvantage of being jointly occa- 
pied by two races^ those of British^ and those of 
German extraction. The latter are spoken of by 
the Anglo-Americans as the Boeotians of the land. 
They appeared to me industrious and saving, very 
averse to speculation, but certainly wanting in thai 
habit of identifying themselves with the acts of th^ 
government, which can alone ^ve to the electors under 
a representative system a due sense of responsibility. 
Some of them talked of their public works as of 
commercial projects which had failed ; and when I 
remarked that, unlike the English, whose debts were 
incurred by carrying on wars, they were at least 
reaping some advantage from their expenditure, they 
assured me I was mistaken — that such cheap and 
rapid means of locomotion were positively injurious, 
by facilitating migrations to the West, and preventing 
a country with a " sparse " population from filling up. 
For this reason, their lands had not risen in value 
as they ought to have done. They protested that 
they had always been opposed to railways and canals ; 
and that for every useful line adopted, there was 
sure to be another unnecessary canal or railway made, 
in consequence of ** log-rolling" in their legislature. 
The representatives, they say, of each section of the 
country, would only consent to vote money, if they 
could obtain a promise that an equal sum should be 


laid out in their own district, and to this end some 
new and uncalled-for scheme had to be invented. 
This kind of jobbing they compare to log-rolling 
in the back settlements, where the thinly-scattered 
inhabitants assemble and run up a log-cabin in d. 
single day for the new-comer, receiving, in their 
turn, some corresponding service, whenever the union 
of numbers is required. 

From all I could learn, I felt inclined to believe, 
that as soon as these Germans were convinced that 
they really owed the money they would pay it. 
There are, however, a multitude of European immi- 
grants who have recently been admitted to take 
part in the elections by shortening the term of years 
required for naturalization. It is also notorious that, 
owing to the neglect of registration, many aliens vote 
fraudulently, and others several times over at the 
same poll, in various disguises. 

To those English politicians who are not accus-* 
tomed to look with favouring eyes on democratic 
institutions in general, the task of reforming such 
abuses appears hopeless. By what eloquence, they 
ask, can we persuade an ignorant multitude to ab- 
dicate power, if we have once taken the false step of 
conferring sovereignty upon them ? At every elec- 
tion they must become more and more demoralized. 
It is proverbially difficult for truth to reach the ears 

232 UNiy£BSAL 8UFFBA6E. Chap. XI 

of kings^ and what matters It whether the soverdgn 
consist of one or of many individuals ? The flattery 
of demagogues is not less gross and servile than that 
of courtiers in the palaces of princes. The candi- 
dates for popular favour^ when appealing to the 
passions of the vulgar^ their vanity^ pride^ and na- 
tional jealousy, never administer their honied drugs 
in homoeopathic doses. By what arts or powers of 
oratory can we hope to persuade the least educated 
portion of the community, when they have once ob- 
tained by their numbers a preponderating influence, 
that they ought to be disfranchised? — ^that the more 
wealthy citizens, who have leisure for study and 
reflection, will shrink from the ordeal of contested 
elections, if they must defer to vulgar prejudices, 
and coarser feelings; — in a word, that some must be 
content to break stones on the road and dig canals, 
instead of choosing lawgivers, and instructing them 
how to vote ? 

Nothing is more easy than to draw so discouraging 
a picture of the dangers of universal suffrage, that we 
are led to despair of the republic, and deem it far 
more wonderful that Ohio should pay than that Mis- 
sissippi should repudiate. But when we take a nearer 
view of recent events, and observe what is now going 
on in the U. S., we discover grounds for viewing 
their affairs in a very different and far more cheerful 


light. In the first place^ touchmg financial matters^ 
it is satisfactory to know that, when the Central Go- 
yemment failed, in 1842, to contract a loan in Eu- 
rope, the American capitalists came forward without 
hesitation, and advanced the money on the terms 
which had been rejected. The new stock rose at 
once above par, and has since become saleable in 
Europe at a premium of 16 per cent. The Ame- 
ricans have, also, made large purchases, in the years 
1843 and 1844, of the bonds of Ohio, Kentucky, 
Tennessee, and even Pennsylvania; and had there 
been more capital seeking investment in the U. S., 
their securities generally would have changed hands 
to a greater extent. 

This confidence is not based on any principles of 
pure patriotism, but on cool calculation and a know- 
ledge that all but nin^ out of twenty-nine States and 
Territories are either free from debt, or have been 
true to their engagements. The only State which 
has formally disowned or repudiated a portion of 
her debt, amounting to about one million sterling, 
is Mississippi. She does not deny having received 
the money, or a part of it, but has the effrontery to 
allege, as ground for non-payment, that her agents 
exceeded their powers, and defrauded her. Michigan, 
also, and Florida, have held language somewhat border- 
ing on repudiation ; but the other States in arrear have 


promised to pay, and some of them are exerting them- 
selves in earnest to accomplish the object. Upon the 
whole, the interest of nearly half the money borrowed 
has been regularly paid; and when we recollect that 
no small part of it was lent to new and poor Statesof 
Territories, where society is still in a rude, half-formed, 
and migratory condition, and that the money lent 
rashly and incautiously was spent, as might have been 
expected, improvidently, we must view their deUn- 
quency with some indulgence, and assign a share, at 
least, of the blame to the lender. 

The state of Ohio has always punctually discharged 
the interest of her debt by direct taxes imposed for 
that special purpose, although there has been a de- 
ficit from the beginning on the proceeds of her public 
works. She is of recent origin, and her growth has 
been more rank and luxuriant than that of any other 
State of the Union. An influx of illiterate Irish, 
Welsh, and Westphalian settlers, has tended to lower 
the educational qualifications of her electors, considered 
as a whole ; but she came of a good New-England 
stock, which, like the philosopher's stone, has con- 
verted much of her baser metal into gold. 

Any foreigner who has hastily embraced the notion 
that a suffrage virtually imiversal must be incompa- 
tible in the U. S. with order, obedience to the laws, 
security of property, a high degree of civilization, 


and the most unimpeachable public credit^ has only 
to make himself acquainted with the present con- 
dition of the New-England States, especially Massa- 
chusets, and he will feel satisfied that the charge 
may be refuted. It is a wholly different question 
whether so democratic a constitution is equally fitted 
for the exigencies of many other parts of the Union, 
where the mass of the people are less advanced in 
knowledge and wealth, where the force of public 
opinion and sympathy is checked, and the free com- 
munication of thought impeded, by distinctness of 
races and of language. 

Although the political constitutions of the several 
States are all formed on one great model, there exists 
considerable diversity in the details of their or- 
ganization. The qualifications of the electors and 
legislators are not the same in all, nor the modes of 
appointment or powers of the Executive. There 
seems, however, a nearer approach to uniformity, than 
can be consistent with the very different degrees of 
social advancement and mental cultivation to which 
these independent States have attained. 

To defects and blemishes of this kind, the leading 
statesmen in America are not blind, and both the 
evils and their remedies are subjects of the freest 
discussion. In many of the newspapers, and in the 


monthlj and quarterly journals of both parties, in 
public lectures and speeches at elections;, we find, 
during the last three years, the conduct of repa* 
diating or de&ulting States unsparingly condemned. 
The most earnest appeals are made to the sense of 
justice and honour, to the reli^ous feelings or na- 
tional pride, of thdr hearers or readers ; they ako 
tell them that it is their interest to pay, and that, if 
they cannot be moyed by higher motives, they should 
remember that " Honesty is the best policy. ** The 
frequency and earnestness of these exhortations suf- 
ficiently prove the conviction of the writers and ora- 
tors that a reform may be brought about. The 
mischief that has occurred is sometimes adduced as a 
proof that education and habits of temperance, al- 
though they have made great progress during the 
last fifteen years, have not yet been carried far enough, 
A more strict registration of the electors for the sake 
of putting an end to fraudulent voting, and the ex- 
clusion of foreigners from the electoral body, by 
lengthening the term of naturalization, are measures 
warmly insisted upon by the party opposed to the 
extremes of democracy — a party which, so late as the 
year 1840, obtained a majority in a presidential elec- 
tion, when two millions and a half of persons gave 
their votes. Sanguine hopes are entertained that the 


most respectable members of the democratic party 
will also join in effecting reforms in the electoral sys- 
tem so obviously desirable. It is not simply the fair 
fame and happiness of eighteen millions of souls 
which are at stake ; for during the lifetime of thou- 
sands now taking part in public affairs^ or before 
the dose of the present century, the population of 
the U. S. will probably amoimt, even on a moderate 
estimate, to no less than eighty millions.* 

* Tucker's Progress of the U.S., p. 106. 

238 KEW TOBK# Chip.XE 


New York city, — Oeclogy, — DUtrtbution of erratic Modu n 
Long Island, — ReMence m New York. — Effects an societg of 
increased intercourse of distant States, — Separation of Ae 
capital and metropolis. — ClinuUe, — Geology of the Tacme 
mottntains. — Stratum of plumbago and anthracite in the mtioB 
schist of Worcester, — Theory of its origin, — Lectures for &e 
working classes, — FossUfoot-prints of birds in red sandstone.— 
Mount Holyoke, — Visit to the island of Marthds Vineyard,— 
Fossil Walrus, — Indians. 

New Yorky Marchy 1842. — The island on which New 
York stands is composed of gneiss, as are the cliffs on 
the left bank of the Hudson, for many miles above. 
At Hoboken, on the opposite side of the river, chffs 
are seen of serpentine, a rock which appears to be 
subordinate to the gnebs, as in many parts of Norway 
and Sweden. All these formations, as well as the 
syenite of Staten Island, correspond very closely with 
European rocks of the same order. 

Long Island is about 130 miles in length, and the 
town of Brooklyn, on its western extremity, may be 
considered as a suburb of New York. This low island 
is every where covered with an enormous mass of drift 
or diluvium, and is the most southern point in the 
United States, where I saw large erratic blocks in great 


numbers. Excavations recently made in the Navy 
Yard at Brooklyn have exposed the boulder forma- 
tion to the depth of thirty feet; the lowest portion 
there seen consisting of red clay and loam^ with 
boulders of trap and sandstone^ is evidently the 
detritus of the New Red Sandstone formation of 
New Jersey. This mass, in the sections where I 
observed it, was about eighteen feet thick, and 
rudely stratified. Above it lay an unstratified grey 
loam, partly of coarse and partly of fine materials, 
with boulders and angular blocks of gneiss, syenitic 
greenstone, and other crystalline rocks, dispersed at 
random through the loamy base, the whole being 
covered with loam eight feet thick. One angular 
block of gneiss, which I measured, was thirteen feet 
loDg, by nine in breadth, and five feet high, but 
masses still larger have been met with, and broken up 
by gunpowder. Mr. Redfield, who accompanied me 
to Brooklyn, suggested that the inferior red drift may 
have been accumulated first when the red sandstone 
of the neighbouring country was denuded, and that 
afterwards, when the land was submerged to a greater 
depth, and when the gneiss and hypogene mountains 
of the highlands alone protruded above the waters, the 
upper drift with its erratics may have been thrown 
down. I am well disposed to adopt this view, because 
it coincides with conclusions to which I was led by 


independent evidence^ after examining the distiioti 
around Lakes Erie and Ontario^ viz. that the drift 
was deposited during the successiye submergence (£% 
region which had been previously elevated and de» 
nuded^ and which had already acquired its prefleoi 
leading geographical features and superficial configu- 

At South Brooklyn^ I saw a fine example of stra- 
tified driffc, consisting of beds of clay^ sand, and 
gravel, which were contorted and folded as if by 
violent lateral pressure, while beds below of similar 
composition, and equally flexible, remained horizontal 
These appearances^ which exactly agree with thoee 
seen in the drift of Scotland or the North of Europe^ 
generally accord well with the theory which attri- 
butes the pressure to the stranding of ice islands, which, 
when they run aground, are known to push before 
them large mounds of shingle and sand, and must 
often alter greatly the arrangement of strata forming 
the upper part of shoals, or mud-banks and sand- 
banks in the sea, while the inferior portions of the 
same remain unmoved. 

Mr. Mather, in his Report on the geology of this 
portion of New York *, states an interesting fact in 
regard to the arrangement of the boulder formation on 
Long Island, which, as before mentioned, extends for 

♦ Report for 1837, p. 88. 


about 130 miles east and west. At its eastern ex- 
tremity the boulders are of such kinds of granite, 
gneiss^ mica, slate, greenstone, and syenite, as may 
have come across the Sound from parts of Rhode 
Island, immediately to the north. Farther westward, 
opposite the mouth of the Connecticut River, they 
are of such varieties of gneiss and hornblende slate 
as correspond with the rocks of the region through 
which that river passes. Still farther west, or opposite 
Ifewhaven, they consist of red sandstone and con- 
glomerate^ and the trap of that country ; and lastly, 
at the western end, adjoining the city of New York, 
we find serpentine, red sandstone, and various granitic 
and crystalline rocks, which have come from the 
district lying immediately to the north. This distri- 
bution of the travelled fragments will remind every 
geologist of the manner in which distinct sets of 
erratics are lodged on the Swiss Jura, each set, 
whether of granite, marble, or gneiss, answering in 
composition to those parts of the Alps which are 
nearest and immediately opposite, as if they had 
crossed the great valley of Switzerland, more 
than fifty miles broad, in a direction at right angles 
to its length. The Sound, which separates Long 
Island from the main land, is from five to twenty- 
five miles broad. The fragments have doubtless 
been transported by ice ; but we must suppose them 


242 NEW YORK. Chap. Xn. 

to have been floated by ice-islands in the sea, as 
there are no high mountains in this part of North 
America from which glaciers can have descended 
after the continent had acquired nearly its present 
shape and altitude. 

We spent several weeks at New York, and soon 
found ourselves at home in the society of persona 
to some of whom we had letters of introduction 
from near relatives in England, and others whom 
we had met at distant places in the course of our 
tour. So many American citizens migrate firom 
north to south for the sake of mild winters, or 
attendance on Congress, or the supreme courts of law 
at Washington, or congr^ate in large watering 
places during the summer, or have children or brothers 
settled in the Far West; everywhere there is so much 
intercourse, personal or epistolary, between scientific 
and literary men in remote states, who have often 
received their university education far from home, 
that in each new city where we sojourn our 
American friends and acquaintances seem to know 
something of each other, and to belong to the same 
set in society. The territorial extent and political 
independence of the different States of the Union 
remind the traveller rather of the distinct nations 
of Europe than of the different counties of a single 
kingdom like England ; but the population has spread 
so fast from certain centres, especially from New 

Chap. XIL NEW YORK. 243 

Sngland^ and the facilities of communication by rail- 
way and ?team-boat are so great, and are always 
improving so rapidly, that the twenty-six republics 
of 1842, having a population of seventeen millions, 
are more united, and belong more thoroughly 
to one nation, than did the thirteen States in 1776, 
when their numbers were only three millions. In 
spite of the continued decline of the federal 
authority, and the occasional conflict of commercial 
interests between the North and South, and the 
violent passions excited by the anti-slavery move- 
ment, the old colonial prejudices have been softening 
down from year to year, the English language, 
laws, and literature, have pervaded more and more 
the Dutch, German, and French settlements, and 
the danger of the dismemberment of the confederacy 
appears to all reflecting politicians less imminent 
now than formerly. 

I dined with Mr. Astor, now far advanced in 
years, whose name is well known to the readers of 
Washington Irving's " Astoria." He informed me 
that he was about to found a large public library 
in New York, which I rejoice to hear, as the scientific 
men and naturalists of this country can rarely 
afford to purchase expensive European works with 
numerous illustrations. I often regretted, during 
my short residence here, that the town of Albany, 

M s 


150 miles distant^ is destined^ because it is the capital, 
to possess the splendid collection of minerals^ rocks, 
and fossils obtained during the late goyemment 
survey. The surveyors are now employed in arrang- 
ing these treasures in a museum^ which would have 
been far more useful and more frequently con- 
sulted if placed in the midst of this wealthy 
metropolis, having a population of 300,000 souls. 
Foreigners, indeed, who have only visited New 
York for conunercial purposes may imagine that 
all the inhabitants are exclusively engrossed with 
trade and money-making; but there is a college 
here, and many large and flourishing literary and 
scientific institutions. I received numerous invi- 
tations to deliver lectures on geology, but had 
scarcely time to finish one short course when I 
was reminded, by the breaking up of winter, that 
I could resume my operations in the field. 

It was now the second week of April, and already 
the willows on " the Battery " were putting forth 
their yellowish-green leaves. The air was as warm 
as in an English summer, although a few days before 
the ground had been covered with snow. Such 
sudden changes are trying to many constitutions; 
and we are told that if we staid a second year in 
the United States we should feel the influence of 
the climate, and begin to lose that -freshness of 


colour which marks the newly-arrived Englishman. 
The greater sallownesa of complexion here is attri- 
buted to the want of humidity in the air ; and we 
ought to congratulate ourselves that there is no lack 
of that ingredient in the atmosphere of Great 
Britain. We continue to be surprised at the clear- 
ness of the skies, and the number of fine days and 
bright star-light nights, on this side of the Atlantic. 
April 12, 1842. — Left New York, and ascended 
the North River to Hudson City, to observe there 
the transition or Silurian slates and limestones. 
These rocks have undergone so much disturbance 
that I was unable to satisfy myself — perhaps from 
want of more time for observation — whether the 
alleged unconformability of the fossiliferous lime- 
stone to the black slate is real or only apparent, 
and owing to shifts in the position of the strata. 
From Hudson City I followed the line of the rail- 
way by Chester and Westfield, over what is called 
the Taconic range of mountains. They may be 
considered, geographically, as a continuation of the 
Green Mountains of Vermont; and they do not 
differ greatly in their geological structure, the pre- 
dominant rocks being gneiss, mica schist, talcose 
slate, and crystalline limestone, the larger portion 
of which would in the ordinary nomenclature of 
geology be called primary. They have, however, 

M 3 


been termed metamorphic, because in some of the 
associated slates traces of fucoids and vermiform 
bodies^ called Nereites, have been discovered. Pro- 
fessors Hitchcock and H. D. Rogers have expressed 
an opinion, which appeared to me highly probable 
after a cursory examination of these hills, that they 
consist of altered Silurian strata. Dr. Emmons, on 
the other hand, contends that they are more ancient 
than the lowest sandstone of the oldest fossiliferoos 
group of New York, — in a word, that they are 
sedimentary strata of an era anterior to the Silurian, 
in a metamorphic state. The order of arrangement 
of the masses, their mineral constituents and organic 
remains, are appealed to in support of this theory; 
and several sections are considered as proving that 
the most ancient sandstones of the New York series 
rest unconformably on the rocks in question, to 
which Dr. Emmons gives the name of the Taconic 
system. But the fossils are so few, and so analogous 
either to species found in the Silurian strata in the 
United States or in those now generally referred, 
like the Nereites (a species of annelides?), to the 
inferior division of that group in Great Britain, that 
the claim of this Taconic group to an independent 
place among the paleozoic formations seems still very 

I went afterwards to examine the mica schist 
of Worcester, in Massachusetts, to the east of the 


Taconic range and of the Connecticut River, and 
forty-five miles due west of Boston. I found, 
interstratified with the mica schist and associated 
clay-slate of this place, a regular bed of plumba- 
ginous anthracite, or impure graphite, portions of 
which give a streak on paper like a lead pencil. 
It has been used for making pencils, while a part 
of the stratum has been worked for coal, but 
apparently without profit, as the mine is now 
abandoned. The mica schist contains garnets and 
asbestus, and is much impregnated with carbonaceous 
matter. I searched in vain for vegetable impressions 
in the plumbaginous anthracite, which was in part 
iridescent, like coal, and so much resembled some of 
the earthy anthracites which I soon afterwards saw 
on the borders of Massachusetts and Bhode Island, 
at Wrentham, Cumberland, Attleborough, and 
Mansfield, that I feel strongly inclined to believe 
that the Worcester beds, however crystalline they 
may be, are no other than carboniferous rocks in an 
altered or metamorphic state. At the various loca- 
lities last mentioned I found in the carbonaceous 
slates accompanying the anthracite the most common 
coal plants, such as Pecopteris plumosa, Neuropteris 
flexuosa, Sphenophyllum, Calamites, &c. Although 
the associated strata were not in a crystalline con- 
dition, they and the coal were occasionally traversed 

M 4 


with veins of quartz^ like the plumbaginous bed 
at Worcester ; and there are many places in Rhode 
Island and Massachusetts^ pointed out by Dr. C. T. 
Jackson and Professor Hitchcock^ in which the 
carboniferous and old red sandstone rocks pass into 
mica schist, and other hypogene rocks^ especially in 
the neighbourhood of masses of granite and syenite. 
In some cases the pebUes of the conglomerate 
remain distinct, while the shaly base has been turned 
into a well-characterised mica schist, of which I 
obtained specimens. 

I have ahready mentioned (p. 90.) that in crossing 
from the west of the All^hany moimtains to the 
eastern portion of the Appalachian coal-field the 
volatile ingredients (oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen) 
of the original coal bear continually a smaller and 
smaller proportion to the carbon. In the specimens 
which I myself obtained from Pomeroy, Ohio, where 
the coal is bituminous, and where the strata are un- 
disturbed, the quantity of gaseous matter has been 
found by my friend Dr. Percy to be in the propor- 
tion of 19 per cent., the rest being carbon and ash. 
2dly. In the coal at Frostburg, in Maryland, in the 
midst of the Alleghany chain, where the strata 
have undergone but slight disturbance, the pro- 
portion of volatile matter was found to be 9^ per 
cent. 3dly. In the Pennsylvanian anthracite of the 


Lehigh and Mauch Chunk mines, before alluded to 
(p. 85.), the volatile ingredients are about 5 per 

In the plumbaginous anthracite of Worcester the 
proportion of volatile matter is about 3 per cent., 
there being a slight trace of nitrogen. I conceive 
that a more powerful action of those same plutonic 
causes (heat, and other subterranean agencies) which 
are capable of converting sedimentary into crystal- 
line rocks may have expelled nearly all the gaseous 
ingredients from a stratum of coal or anthracite, and 
turned it into an impure plumbago, while the car- 
boniferous grits and shales were changed into car- 
bonaceous mica-schist, clay-slate, and quartzite. At 
Little Falls, on the Mohawk River, and elsewhere in 
the U. S., and at the Falls of Montmorency, and 
other places in Canada, I have seen the lowest 
Silurian strata resting un conformably on gneiss and 
other hypogene formations. But we ought not to be 
surprised on that account, if we find on the Ame- 

* These results were obtained from an elaborate analysis made 
for me by the kindness of Dr. J. Percy of Birmingham, since the 
statement given at p. 90. was printed. They bear out the geo- 
logical inferences, there referred to, of Professor H.D. Rogers ; 
but it will be seen that the proportions of the chemical consti- 
tuents differ greatly, the gaseous matter being only half the 
previously estimated quantity. For details of the analysis and 
manipulations, see Appendix to a paper by the author, in the 
Journal of Geol. Soc, London, No II. 1845. 

H 5 


rican continent, as in the Swiss Alps and other 
re^ons in Europe, strata cont^ing plants of the 
coal-measures, or of still newer dates, which have 
acquired the hjpogene or metamorphic structure. 
Near the Atlantic border of the United States, in 
particular, we should be prepared for such a dis- 
covery, for we know that those powerful moyements 
which have given rise to the Appalachian chain, 
folding and dislocating the solid rocks for a breadth 
of 150, and a length of more than 1000 miles, and 
the injection into the eastern portion of the chain, of 
igneous rocks of the trappean and plutonic order, are 
phenomena posterior in date to the deposition of the 
American carboniferous strata. During so long a 
series of subterranean diahges as are implied by these 
disturbances it may well have happened that con- 
siderable masses of the coal-bearing, as well as of 
more ancient paleozoic strata, should have assumed a 
crystalline texture. 

At a small New England town in the Taconic 
hills above mentioned I was getting some travelling 
instructions at the bar of an inn, when a carpenter 
entered who had just finished his day's work, and 
asked what lecture would be given that evening. 
The reply was, Mr. N. on the Astronomy of the 
Middle Ages. He then inquired if it was gratis, 
and was answered in the negative, the price being 


twenty-five cents (or one shilling English); upon 
which he said he should go, and accordingly returned 
home to dress. It reflects no small credit on the 
national system of education in New England, that 
crowds of the labouring classes of both sexes should 
seek recreation, after the toils of the day are over, in 
listening to discourses of this kind. Among the 
most popular subjects of lectures which I saw an- 
nounced in newspapers or placards in different towns 
and villages were Temperance, a cause which has 
made great progress of late years among Protestants 
as well as Catholics, and which began in the U. S. 
fifteen years before the corresponding movement in 
Great Britain; Phrenology, to the pretensions of 
which the Americans lend too credulous an ear ; the 
History of the American Revolution; the Present 
State and Past History of China ; Travels in the Holy 
Land ; Meteorology, and a variety of other topics. 

April 15. — Visited Professor Hitchcock at Am- 
herst College, Massachussets, by whom the geolo- 
gical survey of that State has been ably executed. 
He showed me several ridges and large rounded 
hillocks of transported materials, or " drift," north of 
Amherst, surrounding swamps, in precisely the same 
manner as those usually referred to the glacial period 
in Scotland and Northern Europe. They have been 
called " moraines " by some geologists ; but if we call 

H 6 


in the agency of ice^ as I am well disposed to do^ we 
must attribute their accumulation to the melting of 
icebergs charged with fragments of gravel and rod: 
rather than to glaciers. Professor Hitchcock has, in 
fact^ styled them iceberg mondnes. 

At Smith's Ferry, near Northampton, about 
eleven miles north of Springfield, I examined, in 
company with the Professor, the red sandstone on 
the banks of the Connecticut River, where the cele- 
brated foot-prints of birds are beautifully exhibited. 
The rock consists of thin-bedded sandstone (New 
Red, Trias?), alternating with red-coloured shale, 
some of the flags being distinctly ripple -marked. 
The dip of the layers, on which the Ornithichnites 
are imprinted in great abundance, varies from eleven 
to fifteen degrees. It is evident that in this place 
many superimposed beds must have been successively 
trodden upon, as different sets of footsteps are 
traceable through a thickness of sandstone exceeding 
ten feet. My companion also pointed out to me 
that some of the beds, exposed several yards down 
the river, and containing Ornithichnites, would, if pro- 
longed, pass under those of the principal locality, and 
make the entire thickness throughout which the im- 
pressions prevail at intervals, perhaps, twenty or thirty 
feet. We cannot, therefore, explain these phenomena 
simply by supposing large sheets of mud to have 

Chap.xu. fossil footsteps of bibds. 253 

been spread out by the tidal waters, as may be 
observed on the broad flats bordering the Bay of 
Fundy. These last, it is true, as will be shown in a 
future chapter, exhibit the recent foot-prints of birds, 
in many successive layers, for a depth of two or three 
inches; but I cannot conceive such markings to 
extend through a thickness of twenty-five feet 
without supposing a subsidence of the ground to 
have taken place from time to time during the 
deposition of the layers on which the birds walked. 
The tracks are too well defined and distinct to have 
been made under water : there are clear indications 
of joints in the different toes ; and there is generally 
such a deviation from a straight line in any three 
prints following each other as is observable in the 
trifid marks which birds leave on the sands of the 
sea-coast. The birds must have been of various 
sizes, from that of a small sand-piper to bipeds 
larger than the ostrich ; and it is highly interesting to 
remark how regularly the distance between the 
footsteps increases or diminishes in proportion to the 
size of the foot-marks. In some of the most di- 
minutive, for example, they are no more than three 
inches apart, but in the case of the largest (Omz- 
thichnites gigas) they are from four to six feet. The 
length of the foot in the huge species last mentioned 
is in some instances no less than nineteen inches. Its 


magnitude being nearly twofold that of the Afncaii 
ostrich, as estimated bj the foot (ex pede Herculm), 
and the acknowledged antiquity of the rock, dis- 
inclined many naturalists to adopt the views of Pro- 
fessor Hitchcock, when he referred the markings to 
extinct birds ; but the discoyery of the bones of the 
Moa or Deinornis of New Zealand, described by 
Mr. Owen, proved the existence, at no remote 
period, of feathered bipeds nearly as gigantic, and 
reconciled the zoologist at least to the credibility of 
the fact, however marvellous. 

The waters of the Connecticut being low, I had 
an opportunity of seeing a ledge of rock of red shale 
laid bare, on which were imprinted a single line of 
nine footsteps of Omithichnites giganteus, turning 
alternately right and left, and separated from each 
other by intervals of about five feet. At one spot 
there was a space several yards square, where the 
entire surface of the shale was irregular and jagged, 
owing to the number of footsteps, not one of which 
could be traced distinctly, as when a flock of sheep 
have passed over a muddy road ; but on withdrawing 
from this area the confusion gradually ceased, and 
the tracks became more and more distinct. The 
Professor informed me, that since he first announced 
his belief, in 1836, that these impressions were refer- 
able to birds, he had observed above two thousand 

Chap.xil mount holyoke. 255 

foot-prints, probably made by nearly thirty distinct 
species, all indented on the upper surface of the 
strata, and only exhibiting casts in relief on the 
under side of the beds resting on such indented sur- 

This sandstone is of much higher antiquity (see 
p. 125.) than any formation in which fossil bones 
or other indications of birds have been detected in 
Europe. Still we have no ground for inferring from 
such facts that the feathered tribe made its first ap- 
pearance in the western hemisphere at this period. 
It is too common a fallacy to fix the era of the first 
creation of each tribe of plants or animals, and even of 
animate beings in general, at the precise point where 
our present retrospective knowledge happens to stop. 
The discoveries in Connecticut ought to teach us 
extreme caution in deducing general conclusions 
from mere negative evidence, especially when we 
infer the non-existence of land animab from the 
absence of their remains in contemporaneous marine 

On leaving Amherst for Springfield, we ascended 
Mount Holyoke, the lower part of which is formed 
of horizontal strata of red sandstone, whUe the sum- 
mit is capped with a picturesque mass of basaltic 
greenstone. This hill has been isolated by denuda- 
tion, and from its summit we enjoyed a fine view of 


the fertile plain of the winding Connecticut. On its 
flanks we gathered the blue Hepaticd triloba, the 
Houstania cerulean a white saxifrage^ the May flower, 
EpigcBa repensy and several plants^ which have been 
recentlj naturalised in British gardens. 

Immediately after my arrival at Boston I set out 
(April 19th) to explore the island of Martha's Vine- 
yard, ofi" the south coast of Massachusetts. Travellers 
who made this excursion a few years ago complain of 
being jolted in a coach over deep ruts and huge 
stones : now, an excellent railway carried me rapidly 
to New Bedford on the coast, where a steam-boat 
was in readiness, so that, having started long after 
sunrise, I was landed on " the Vineyard," eighty 
miles distant from Boston, in time to traverse half the 
island, which is about 20 miles long from east to 
west, before sunset. Late in the evening I reached 
the lofty cliffs of Gayhead, more than 200 feet high, 
at the western end of the island, where the highly- 
inclined tertiary strata are gaily coloured, some con- 
sisting of bright red clays, others of white, yellow, 
and green sand, and some of black lignite. They have 
been compared, not unaptly, by Professor Hitchcock, 
to the tertiary beds of Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight, 
which they resemble in appearance, though not in 
age. I collected many fossils here, assisted by some 
resident Indians, who are very intelligent. The sec- 
tion is continuous for four fifths of a mile, the beds 


dipping to the N. E. at an angle of from 35° to 50°, 
and in some places to 70°. Their entire thickness 
must be very great, exceeding 2000 feet. The clays 
predominate over the sands. In the black beds con- 
taining lignites coniferous wood is abundant, and 
amber is said to have been found. The organic re- 
mains prevail at intervals in various strata, but I ex- 
tracted most of them from a bed of green sand (b). 

Fig. 6. 
N.E. S.W. 


Section at Gayhead. 

A. Lighthouse. b. Greensand with sharks* teeth. 

c. Osseous conglomerate with walrus. d. Drift. 

near the north-eastern end. They consisted of casts 
of shells, teeth of large sharks, the vertebrae of a 
dolphin, and of a whale of great size. I also disco- 
vered a tooth referred by Mr. Owen to the canine 
tooth of a seal. 

Together with these, I found numerous nodules 
of the shape of kidney potatoes, from one to two 
inches in diameter, smooth externally, which I pre- 
sume to have been coprolites. They have beeij 
analysed for me by my friend J. Middleton, Esq., 
F. G. S., and found to contain no less than 50 per 
cent, of phosphate of lime, the constitution of the 
latter being such as is peculiar to organic substances. 
They also consist of fluoride of calcium, chloride of 


sodium^ and other elements. These coprolites, there- 
fore, seem closely analogous in composition as in age, 
to those found bj Professor Henslow in the Suffolk 
crag of Felixstow^ and which accompany the bones 
of sharks and cetacea. 

Xear the lighthouse there is a great fold in the 
beds, where they are so bent as to have twice a 
north-easterly and once a south-westerly dip. One of 
these folded beds (c) consists of an osseous conglo- 
merate, in which I found, several rolled cetaceous re- 
mains; and I purchased from a fisherman residing 
near the promontory a fossil skull, which he told me 
had fallen out of this conglomerate upon the beach 
below. It retained but a small portion of the original 
animal matter, was slightly rolled, and Mr. Owen re- 
cognised it as the cranium of a Walrus, or Morse, 
nearly allied to the existing species (^Trichecus 
Rosmarus, Linn.). On comparison, it was observed 
to differ from it, in having six molar teeth, instead of 
four, on each side of the upper jaw. There are eleven 
specimens of the recent species in the College of 
Surgeons, in all of which there are no more than four 
grinders on each side. The tusk, also, of the Gayhead 
fossil has a rounder form than that of the recent 
Morse. (See plate V.) 

Near Chilmark, on the S. W. side of the island, I 
found the same beds as at Gayhead, in a still more 
disturbed state. Upon the whole, the organic remains. 


«l ' 





especially the sharks' teeth, lead me decidedly to the 
opinion that the strata belong to a part of the tertiary 
series newer than the Eocene, to which they were 
formerly referred. They must be at least as modem 
as the Miocene marls of Virginia and Maryland, before 
described (p. 134). Several of the sharks' teeth are 
specifically identical with the fossils of those marls, and 
of the Faluns of Touraine and the Sufiblk crag ; and 
there are no greensands either of the Eocene or cre- 
taceous periods in Martha's Vineyard, as some have 
conjectured. These conclusions, in regard to the mo- 
dern date of this formation, are interesting, because, 
but for this small island, we should have had no evi- 
dence of the development of a great series of subter- 
ranean movements in this part of the American con- 
tinent. The disturbances in question occurred 
between the Miocene epoch and the Boulder period ; 
and we know not how far their influence may have 
extended over the hypogene rocks of New England. 

The tertiary clays and sands of Martha's Vineyard 
are for the most part deeply buried beneath a mass of 
drift {dy Fig, 6.), in which lie huge erratic blocks of 
granite, often from twenty to thirty feet in diameter, 
which must have come from the North, probably from 
the mountains of New Hampshire. This covering of 
granitic detritus imparts to the soil a sterile character 
totally different from that which would naturally 
belong to the tertiary clays and marls. 

260 INDIANS. Chap.XE 

*I alluded to some Tndians settled near Gay- 
head, a remnant of the aborigines, who have been 
protected by the Government of Massachusetts, all 
sales of land by them to the whites being null and 
void by law. They make excellent sailors in the 
whale-fishery of the South Seas, a source of great 
wealth to the inhabitants of " the Vineyard," and of 
New Bedford on the main land. That occupation, 
with all its privations and dangers, seems admirably 
suited to the bodily constitution and hereditary instinct 
of a hunter tribe, to whom steady and continuous 
labour is irksome and injurious. 

The history of the extermination of the aboriginal 
Indians of New England is a melancholy tale, es- 
pecially after so many successful exertions had been 
made to educate and christianize them. When at 
Harvard College, a copy of the Bible was shown me 
by Mr. Jared Sparks, translated by the missionary 
Father Elliott into the Indian tongue. It is now a 
dead language, although preached for several genera- 
tions to crowded congregations. 

On my retdrn across the Vineyard from Gayhead 
I saw several spotted tortoises with red heads migra- 
ting from one pond of fresh water to another. On the 
sea-shore another novelty attracted my notice — seve- 
ral large specimens of the King Crab (^Limulus 
polyphemus) were crawling about in the salt-water 
pools left by the sea on the retiring of the tide. 

Chap. XIIT. BOSTON. 261 


Meeting of Association of American Geologists at Boston. — 
Popular libraries in New England, — Large sale of literary 
works in the United States. — American universities. — Harvard 
College, near Boston. — English universities, — Peculiarities of 
their [system. — Historical sketch of the causes of these pecu- 
liarities not of medieval origin. — Collegiate corporations. — 
Their altered relation to the English universities after the 
Reformation. — Constitution given to Oxford by Leicester and 
Laud. — System of public teaching, how superseded by the 
collegiate. — Effects of the change. — Oxford Examination 
Statute of 1 800. — Its svbseqvjent modification and results. — Rise 
of private tutors at Oxford and Cambridge. — Consequences 
of this innovation. — Struggle at Oxford in 1839 to restore 
the prof essoricd system. — Causes of its refection. — Tractarian' 
ism. — Supremacy of ecclesiastics. — Youthful examiners. — 
Cambridge. — Advocacy of the system followed there. — In- 
fluence of the English academical plan on the cultivation of the 
physical sciences, and all brandies of progressive knowledge. — 
Remedies and reforms. 

April 25. — I returned to Boston to attend the third 
annual meeting of the Association of American Geolo* 
gists, who had held their previous meetings of 1840 
and 1841 at Philadelphia. On the present occasion 
Dr. Morton took the chair, and in the course of the 
week papers were read and freely discussed on a va- 
riety of scientific questions by many of the leading 


American geologbts, some of whom had come from 
distant parts of the Union. The patronage afforded 
hj the state surveys has created a numerous class both 
of practised obserrers and able writers. Among those 
engaged in these gOTcmment undertakings^ who took 
part in these proceedings, I maj mention Professor 
Hitchcock, of Massachusetts, Professor W. B. Bogers, 
of Virginia, Professor H.D. Rogers, of Pennsyl- 
yania, Mr. Yanuxem, Dr. Emmons, Mr. Hall, and 
Dr. Beck — all engaged on the survey of New York; 
Dr. Jackson, who has surveyed Bhode Island, New 
Hampshire, and Maine; and Dr. Locke, of Ohio. 
There were also present Professor Silliman and his 
son, Messrs. Nicollet, Bedfield, Gould, Bailey, Dana, 
Couthouy, Haldeman, Hubbard, J. L. Hayes, and 
others, all known as authors or contributors to scien- 
tific publications. The structure of the Alleghany 
HUls, and of the coal-fields of America, the origin of 
coral reefs, the glacial theory, the effects of icebergs, 
the nature of the foot-marks in the red sandstone of 
Connecticut valley, and other subjects, were de- 
bated upon during the week, in an animated but 
most amicable style. The citizens of Boston, learn- 
ing that means were wanting for the publication of 
a series of valuable memoirs, read at this and former 
meetings of the association, came forward with their 
usual liberality, and supplied funds, by aid of which 


a volume entitled ** Transactions of the Association 
of American Geologists for 1840-42," a work reflect- 
ing the highest credit on the cultivators of geology 
and its kindred sciences in America, made its appear- 
ance soon afterwards. 

Munificent bequests and donations for public 
purposes, whether charitable or educational, form 
a striking feature in the modem history of the 
United States, and especially of New England. 
Not only is it common for rich capitalists to leave 
by will a portion of their fortune towards the 
endowment of national institutions, but individuals 
during their lifetime make magnificent grants of 
money for the same objects. There is here no com- 
pulsory law for the equal partition of property 
among children, as in France, and, on the other 
hand, no custom of entail or primogeniture, as in 
England, so that the affluent feel themselves at 
liberty to share their wealth between their kindred 
and the public; it being impossible to found a 
family, and parents having frequently the happiness 
of seeing all their children well provided for and 
independent long before their death. I have seen 
a list of bequests and donations made during the 
last thirty years, for the benefit of religious, chari- 
table, and literary institutions, in the State of 
Massachusetts alone, and they amounted to no less 


a sum than six millions of dollars^ or more than 
a million sterling. 

There are popular libraries in almost every village 
of Massachusetts, and a growing taste for the reading 
of good books is attested by the sale of large 
editions of such works as Herschel's Natural Phi- 
losophy, Washington Irving's Columbus, and Plu- 
tarch's Lives. Of each of these, from five to twenty 
thousand copies have been sold. It will seem still 
more remarkable, that no less than sixteen thousand 
copies have been purchased of Johnes's Translation 
of Froissart's Chronicles, illustrated by wood-en- 
gravings, and twelve thousand of Liebig's Animal 
Chemistry. These editions were very cheap, as 
there was no author's copyright; but it is still 
more surprising, that aboilt four thousand copies of 
Prescott's Mexico should have been sold in one 
year in the U. S. at the price of six dollars, or 
about twenty-six shillings. When, in addition to 
these signs of the times, we remember the grants 
before alluded to, of the New England and other 
states in behalf of public schools and scientific 
surveys, we may indulge very sanguine hopes of 
the future progress of this country towards a high 
standard of general civilization. 

The universities of the United States are annually 
increasing in number, and their discipline in New 


England (to which my inquiries on this head were 
chiefly confined) is very strict ; a full staff of pro- 
fessors, with their assistants or tutors, superintending 
at once the moral conduct and intellectual culture of 
the students. In each university, there is a divinity- 
school, appropriated to some particular religious 
denomination, which is Presbyterian or Independent 
at Newhaven, in Connecticut, where there are about 
SIX hundred students; and Unitarian at Harvard 
College, near Boston, where there are about four 
hundred. But youths belonging to various sects 
resort indifferently to Newhaven, Harvard, and 
other colleges, to pursue their ordinary academical 
studies. After obtaining their first degree, they 
enter, if intended for the ministry, some theological 
faculty established in the same or in another uni- 
versity, or constituting a separate institution for the 
professional training of future divines. The Epis- 
copalians have a flourishing college of this kind 
in the State of New York. The Independents, or 
Congregationalists, have one at Andover in Massa- 
chusetts, where a distinguished professor of biblical 
learning has been known to draw Episcopalians and 
students of other sects to his lectures, no persons 
being excluded, by subscription to articles of religion, 
from entering and studying in any college. 

The multiplication of academical establishments, 

VOL. I. N 


in consequence of every State, and every sect of 
Christians in each State, being ambitious of haying 
schools of their own, is an evil, but one which 
would be greatly aggravated were the general as 
well as the theological education in the univerdties 
alike sectarian ; or if students of classical literature, 
mathematics, law, and medicine, all required teachers 
who agreed with them in every article of faith. It has 
been remarked, by a living satirist, that the force of 
sectarian animosity, like that of gravity, increases 
inversely as the squares of the distance; but, in 
spite of the occasional ebullition in recent times of 
an intolerant spirit on both sides of the Atlantic, 
there are many auspicious signs of the approach of 
an era when differences of religious opinion will less 
interfere with national systems of education, both 
in schools and colleges. The present state of acade- 
mical affairs in Scotland will perhaps be thought incon- 
sistent with this view, where one party has been endea- 
vouring to expel from the universities all professors 
who favour " free church " opinions, while the 
seceders from the establishment, not satisfied with 
a new divinity-school, have aimed at a new uni- 
versity for general instruction. There is now reason, 
however, to hope that the last-mentioned project 
will fail. There are already too many academical 
institutions in Scotland, in proportion to the means of 

Chap.XIIL sectakian spibit. 267 

adequately remunerating the professors; and their 
farther impoverishment, by the withdrawal of stu- 
dents from them to a new college, would be an 
injury to science and civilisation. The policy of the 
government in 1836, when an attempt was made 
to unite King's and Marischal Colleges at Aberdeen, 
was wise and statesmanlike, but it was baffled by the 
local jealousies of the two ancient rivals. Every 
effort should now be made to confine the new aca- 
demical foimdation to the faculty of theology ; and, 
for the same reason, to prevent the establishment of 
rival parochial schools, for the existing parish schools 
are often at present inadequately supported. It is 
deplorable enough to be compelled to admit the 
necessity of any new academical establishment, 
when we reflect that there is absolutely no differ- 
ence of doctrine between the new rival churches 
in Scotland; and that the points of dissent have 
been deemed for a century and a half of such 
subordinate importance, as not to afford justifiable 
grounds for an open breach. In the Irish College 
at Belfast, endowed by government, a professor of 
Greek of acknowledged ability, nominated originally 
by the crown, with the approbation of the Presby- 
terians, has suddenly been deprived of the greater 
part of his class in consequence of the ** free church " 
movement, although no blame is imputed to him on 

N 2 


the score of a proselytising spirit^ or of a wish to 
inculcate his own reli^ous views. In the midst d 
these and other discouraging circumstances, it is 
satisfactory to observe, that three out of the five 
Scotch universities have recently declared to Parlia- 
ment their desire that the religious tests wluch 
now shackle them and impair their efficacy may 
be removed. 

In no subject do the Americans display more 
earnestness than in their desire to improve their 
system of education, both elementary and academical. 
They have sent missionaries to Europe, who have 
published elaborate reports on the methods of 
teaching now employed in Britain, Germany, 
Holland, and France, and they seem ready to adopt 
whatever appears worthy of imitation in these 
different models. The great difficulty under which 
they labour, and one inevitable in a new country, and 
common to them and the British American colonies, 
is the early age at which young men quit college, 
sooner by at least two years than in England. 

In Harvard College, Cambridge, near Boston, the 
best endowed university in the United States, there 
are thirty-two professors, each assisted by one or 
more tutors. Many of them are well known in the 
literary world as authors. Five only of the thirty- 
two were educated for the pulpit, three of whom are 


professors of divinity, one of ethics, and one of 
liistory. All the students are required to attend 
divine service in the churches to which they se- 
verally belong, but the divinity-school for pro- 
fessional education is Unitarian. The pupils are 
examined in the New Testament, also in Paley's 
** Evidences," and Butler's ** Analogy." The pro- 
portion of professors to students (about 400 in 
number) is far greater than that of college tutors 
in the English universities. The tutors of Har- 
vard College may be compared, in some degree, 
to our private tutors, except that they are more 
imder the direction of the professors, being selected 
by them from among the graduates, as the best 
scholars, and each is specially devoted to some one 
department of learning. These tutors, from whose 
number the professors are very commonly chosen, 
usually teach the freshmen, or first-year students, or 
prepare pupils for the professors' lectures. Care is 
also bestowed on the classification of the young 
men, according to their acquirements, talents, and 
tastes. To accomplish this object, the student, on 
entering, may offer to undergo an examination, 
and, if he succeeds, he may pass at once into 
the second, third, or fourth year's class, the inter- 
mediate steps being dispensed with; he may also 
choose certain subjects of study, which are regarded 

N 3 


as equiyalentSy or are exchangeable with othen. 
Thus^ in the four years of the regular academieal 
eourse^ a competent knowledge of Latin^ Greeks andof 
various branches of mathematics^ is exacted from aU; 
but^ in regard to other subjects^ such as moral phi- 
losophy, modem knguages, chemistry, mineralogy, and 
geology, some of them may be substituted for others, 
at the option of the pupil. There are public ex- 
aminations at the end of every term for awarding 
honours or ascertaining the proficiency of students; 
who, if they have been negligent, are put back into 
a previous year's class, the period of taking their 
degree being in that case deferred. Honours are 
obtainable for almost every subject taught by any 
professor; but emulation is not relied upon as the 
chief inducement for study. After passing an ex- 
amination for the fourth year's class, the student can 
obtain the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and may 
enter the divinity, medical, or law schools. 

Every inquiry into the present state of the 
universities in America drew forth from my in- 
formants, in return, many questions respecting Oxford 
and Cambridge. I was asked by professors of 
geology, chemistry, modem history, modem liter- 
ature, and other branches of knowledge, why the 
classes for these subjects had recently fallen off in 
the English universities? was their decline to be 


ascribed to tractarianism^ a form of religious doctrine 
which, they said, had been recently transplanted 
into the United States, and was growing vigorously 
in the new soil ? I declared my conviction that the 
tractarian movement at Oxford had been rather 
one of the effects of the slow and gradual changes 
introduced in modem times into the system of in- 
struction there, than the cause of the recent banish- 
ment from that seat of learning of many sciences 
formerly taught there. The more I endeavoured to 
explain the present state of our academical course of 
study, and the peculiar organisation of the corps of 
teachers to whom its superintendence is confided, 
the more strange it appeared to my New England 
friends ; and I myself became the more aware of its 
distinctive and anomalous character, when contrasted 
with the methods followed elsewhere. Many who 
have been educated, like myself, at Oxford, are 
ignorant of the system of education formerly acted 
upon in our EngUsh universities, and of the real 
nature or causes of the present state of things. I 
shall, therefore, attempt to give, in the remainder of 
this chapter, a brief account of the leading pecu- 
liarities of our former and present academical ma- 
chinery, and to point out its inevitable consequence, 
the very limited range of studies which can be pur- 
sued, so long as things remain unaltered. I shall do 

M 4 


this the more willingly^ because I know that any 
information which may throw light on the subject 
will be equally interesting to my readers on both 
sides of the Atlantic. 

It may awaken curiosity in those who have never 
made any inquiries into these matters^ if I make one 
or two preliminary statements. . In the first place, 
then^ the mass of students or undergraduates at 
Oxfoi'd is divided into twenty-four separate com- 
munities or colleges, very unequal in number, the 
residents in each varying from 10 in the smaller to 
about 140 in the larger colleges, and the whole 
business of educating these separate sections of the 
youth is restricted to the tutors of the separate 
colleges. Consequently, two or three individuals, 
and occasionally a single instructor, may be called 
upon to give lectures in all the departments of human 
knowledge embraced in the academical course of four 
years. If the college be small, there is only 
occupation and salary suflGicient to support one tutor ; 
any attempt, therefore, to subdivide the different 
branches of learning and sciences among distinct 
teachers is abandoned. There is no opportunity 
for one man to concentrate the powers of his 
mind on a single department of learning, to en- 
deavour to enlarge its bounds, and carefully to form 
and direct the opinions of his pupil. In a few of the 


larger colleges, indeed, some rude approach to such a 
partition is made, so far as to sever the mathematical 
from the classical studies ; but even then the tutors 
in each division, are often called upon, in the public 
examinations, to play their part in both depart- 
ments. Thus, a single instructor gives lectures 
or examines in the writings of the Greek and 
Koman historians, philosophers, and poets, together 
with logic, the elements of mathematics, and theo- 

For the benefit of my foreign readers, it may be 
as well to remark, that the scholars to be taught are 
not boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, 
at which latter age the degree of Bachelor of Arts 
was very commonly conferred in the olden times at 
Oxford, but yoimg men between eighteen and twenty- 
two, who, at the expiration of their academical 
course, usually quit college, and enter at once upon a 
profession, or into political life. In the next place, I 
may state, that the choice of teachers, to whom so 
arduous and ambitious a task is allotted, is by no 
means left open to free competition, like the professor- 
ships in most ancient and modem universities ; but, on 
the contrary, is confined within very narrow bounds. 
The college tutors are selected from graduates who 
are on the foundation of their respective colleges, 
and who may have obtained their appointment ori- 

N 5 


ginally, some because they happened to be foundei's 
kin^ or were educated at a particular school, others 
because they were bom in a particular town, county, 
or diocese; a few only being selected from merit, 
or as having distinguished themselves in examma- 
tions open to all candidates. This latter class, how- 
ever, has, it is true, increased of late years. Most 
of these teachers forfeit their fellowships, and most 
probably with it their office of tutor, if they should 
marry, or if, after a certain number of years, they do 
not embrace the clerical profession. They also look 
to preferment in the Church, from their position in 
their college, so that they have every inducement to 
regard the business of teaching as a temporary calling, 
subordinate and subsidiary to another, of a different, 
and to them more advantageous and important, kind. 
Their office as instructors is, in short, a mere step- 
ping-stone to something else ; and they hope to gain 
their reward, not when they are superannuated, for 
then they would be unfit for highly responsible eccle- 
siastical duties, but when they are still in the prime 
of life. In fact, their promotion is so contrived, 
as at once to cut short the career of usefulness in 
which they may have hitherto distinguished them- 

It will naturally be taken for granted, by those 
who have never investigated the history of the univer- 


sities^ that the restrictions and fetters above enumerated 
are all of monastic and medieval origin. The celibacy 
of the teachers, the almost entire monopoly of tuition 
by the clergy, seem clearly to point to a period more 
remote than the Reformation, and when the supremacy 
and exorbitant power of the church of Rome were 
still at their height. But nothing can be farther from 
the truth. On inquiry, we learn with surprise, that 
the original plan of education at Oxford and Cam- 
bridge, as in the other European universities, was 
public and common to the whole mass of students. 
The present system has been upheld by no blind ve- 
neration for ancient usages, nor by the conservative 
principle carried to excess. There has been no dread 
of innovation exhibited in modem times. The sub- 
stitution of the collegiate for a more general univer- 
sity scheme of instruction is the result of a modem 
revolution, altogether subsequent to the era of the 
Reformation, and no small part of it is a creation 
of yesterday, devised at the close of the eighteenth, 
and only carried out since the commencement of 
the nineteenth, century. 

In order to understand how the colleges, or a few 
private corporations, obtained their ascendency over 
our two great national institutions, it is necessary to 
revert to the history of those early ages when the 
European universities originated. It appears that 

M 6 


there was often a prodigious concourse of students to 
those seats of learning where the public teachers ac- 
quired celebrity. We may refuse to credit some oU 
chroniclers, who reckon the number at Oxford and 
elsewhere at ten, twenty, and even thirty thousand; 
but it is certain that the scholars were oflten so crowded 
together in small towns, as to be exposed to great 
hardships, owing to the exorbitant price demanded 
for board and lodging. Benevolent individuals, who 
commiserated the sufferings of the poorer students, 
were induced from time to time to found houses, 
where they might obtain accommodation, and some- 
times board, free of expense. Those who were not 
on such foundations were required, whether graduates 
or undergraduates, to belong to some Hall, or Inn, the 
head of which was usually elected by the scholars, 
and approved of by the chancellor of the university, 
or his deputy. As a large part of the students were 
boys, corresponding in age to those now educated at 
our public schools, they were placed under the special 
guardianship of some tutor, who was expected to look 
to their orderly behaviour, their religious exercises, 
and even, as appears by the old statutes, to " see that 
they conformed to academical rules in regard to matters 
of external appearance, such as their clothes, boots, 
and hair." It was the duty of the head of each house 
to see that the tutors were fit for their office, and to 


take care that the pupils attended the lectures of the 
public readers^ or Masters of Arts, who gave lectures 
in the Schools. 

On the Continent, the houses founded for the sup- 
port of indigent teachers and scholars were entirely 
subjected to the authorities of their respective uni- 
versities; but in England several of the colleges 
were governed by private statutes, over which the 
university exercised no control. Hence they had 
often interests apart from those of the university and 
of the public ; but for centuries they were few in 
number, there being only three colleges in Oxford in 
the fourteenth century; whereas there were three hun- 
dred halls, or licensed boarding-houses, each sustained 
by the private contributions of students. At length 
the Reformation worked suddenly a complete revolu- 
tion in the relative position of the collegiate corpora- 
tions and the academical body at large. The religious 
schism banished many students who did not acquiesce 
in the new opinions. The temper of Henry the 
Eighth was so capricious and uncertain, and the 
policy of his three immediate successors so contradic- 
tory, that it was difficult to know what was the reli- 
gion by law established for the current year ; still less 
possible to calculate what would be the statutable or- 
thodoxy for the year ensuing. Reasonable fears 
were also entertained that, as the monastic property 

278 HISTORY OP Chap. XIH. 

had been confiscated^ the endowments of the univer- 
sities might not long be spared^ so that literature and 
the church were iminviting professions^ whether for 
ambitious or conscientious men.* The halls^ depending 
for their support on the confluence of students^ were 
ruined, except a few which were connected withcertsun 
colleges. Land and houses fell in value in Oxford, so 
that the colleges were«.ble to purchase considerable pro- 
perty from the impoverished burghers for a trifling con- 
sideration. Four new colleges were established within 
half a century subsequent to the Beformation, and 
altogether six during the sixteenth century, some of 
which were built on the sites of suppressed monaste- 
ries, or on land obtained by grants from the crown, 
or purchased for an insignificant price. After this 
period, only one college was foimded — in 1610 ; and 
three of the eight remaining halls changed into col- 
leges, in 1610, 1702, and 1740. 

Originally few of the colleges admitted undergra- 
duates not on the foundation ; but they now opened 
their gates, and were able to include the whole acade- 
mical population within their walls, by which they ob- 

* For many details respecting the early constitution of the 
universities of Paris and Oxford, and the subsequent changes 
in the English Universities, see an article by Sir William 
Hamilton, Bart., who was educated at Oxford, and is now Pro- 
fessor of Logic in the University of Edinburgh, Edin. Review, 
No. xcvi., June, 1831. 


tained a preponderating weight and influence. This 
power, however, might have been defeated, if the Earl 
of Leicester, chancellor of the university, had riot ob- 
tained, in 1570, an exclusive right to institute new 
halls, which was afterwards by statute vested in his 
successors. As the chief magistrate acted usually in 
concert with the heads of colleges, it was henceforth 
easy for the colleges to prevent any new hall from 
interfering with their monopoly ; whereas, previously 
to 1570, the establishment of a hall was easy, it being 
only required that a small number of scholars should 
hire a house, find caution for a year's rent, and choose 
for principal a graduate of respectable character. 
The chancellor, or his deputy, could not, in that case, 
refuse to sanction his appointment. 

The new constitution, procured for the university 
by Leicester, was considerably modified under the 
chancellorship of Archbishop Laud, who raised the 
heads of houses to the rank of a public body, called 
the Hebdomadal Board, to whom the privilege 
was given of proposing new laws to the House of 
Convocation. To the latter, consisting of the doctors 
and the masters of arts, the supreme legislation was 
still left, but without the power of initiating any 
measures. The heads were, by the constitution of 
their colleges, almost all ecclesiastics, and chosen 
from among the fellows of their respective colleges. 

280 OXFOKD. Chap. XIIL 

Their election was, therefore, subject to all the 
(Usabilities and restrictions imposed on the fellows 
by the caprice of the founder. Thus two new 
elements, the preponderating influence of clerical 
over lay rulers, and the fortuitous restrictions in- 
vented for the regulation of private corporations, 
entered suddenly, and as it were accidentally, into 
the legislative constitution of the university. 

From this period, it was almost inevitable, that the 
predilections of men of one profession, and the private 
interests of certain corporate bodies, should modify, 
if not remodel, the whole academical system, and 
frequently prevail over interests of a more general 
and national character. Soon after the university 
had begun to recover from the shock of the Re- 
formation, several new readerships and professorships 
were endowed by Laud, and several others in the next 
century, after his time, in aid of that system of 
public instruction in the schools, which had been 
conducted originally by certain Masters of Arts, 
who were required to read and expound different 
subjects. The teaching of the undergraduates was 
now, therefore, divided between the colleges and the 
public instructors appointed by the university. The 
latter would have regained their former ascendancy, 
if they had been supported by the Heads of houses, 
who were intrusted with the charge of watching 


over the observance of statutes, and all " scho- 
lastic improvements." But they (the Heads) no 
longer obliged the students to attend public lectures 
regularly; and they frequently allowed some of 
the professors to desist from lecturing altogether, 
which many of them, from indolence, and from finding 
their audiences fall off, were disposed to do, especially 
as their instructions were given gratis. Such was 
the ordinary custom in the old universities; but 
in later times it had been foimd that this arrange- 
ment was very defective, that the professors were 
negligent, and that the students undervalued what 
cost them nothing, so that fees were permitted to 
be exacted. In Oxford, however, the professors 
were supplanted, in respect to these fees, by the 
college tutor, to whom a large part of the business 
of education was thus gradually transferred. Had 
a different course been adopted, the professors, 
acquiring in many cases celebrity in their respective 
departments, and devoted permanently, and often 
enthusiastically, to the sciences they taught, would 
have married and settled for life in Oxford ; they 
would have gained an ascendancy over the minds 
of the students and the younger graduates in convo- 
cation ; and many of them would have acquired an 
European reputation. The colleges might naturally 
feel jealous of allowing the growth of such a coun- 

282 OXFORD. Chap. Xltt 

terpoise to the power with which they had been 
recently investecL 

When the old machinery was thus falling into 
disuse^ and before the plan of college tuition was 
fully organised, the academical discipline appears 
to have been extremely lax, and the provision 
for education defective in the extreme. It was 
often difficult to find a college tutor competent 
to undertake the office, and there was occasionally 
only one or two of the resident fellows willing to 
accept of it. Instead of these important places being 
open to a free and fair competition, we may say 
that they were often held by self-appointed teachers. 
A regulation was made, that all the undergraduates 
should lodge within the walls of some college, which 
had the effect of preventing students from freely 
selecting those tutors who had the highest reputation, 
as rooms within the walls were soon filled, and no 
overflow was allowed of pupils lodging in the town. 
The enforcement of this law was said to have been 
jealously watched by some colleges, which would 
otherwise have been all but deserted, towards the 
close of the last century. The numerous scholar- 
ships and other endowments of the university, the 
college livings, and the academical degrees required 
as qualifications for entering holy orders, rendered 
the university very independent of public opinion; 


and whether it taught nothing efficiently^ or failed 
to accommodate its form of instruction to the pro- 
gress and spirit of the age^ it could never apprehend 
a serious diminution of students. 

Occasionally, there were examinations and a revival 
of studious habits in a particular college, or some pro- 
fessor gave a popular course of lectures, and drew 
large audiences. Thus Bradley, the famous astrono- 
mer, delivered, between the years 1746 and 1760, to 
a class of pupils averaging 57 in number, lectures on 
Natural Philosophy, not in Latin, as had been the old 
practice, but in English. But the general indolence of 
the instructors, and the idleness and dissipation of the 
young men, became so notorious and flagrant towards 
the close of the eighteenth century, that a reform was 
loudly called for, and the governing body became 
deeply impressed with a sense of its expediency. 
Many plans were devised for carrying it into effect. 
As the annual or terminal examinations in several 
colleges had been found most useful in maintaining 
orderly habits among the young men, it was proposed 
to improve the public examinations, which had be- 
come a mere form, and to compel every one to pass 
them before obtaining his degree of Bachelor of Arts. 
Honours were to be awarded to those who distin- 
guished themselves. 

It was now evident that the shape in which 

284 OXFORD. Chap.XIIL 

this new statute was framed would determine wbai 
studies should henceforth be encouraged or da&* 
couraged in the university. It was clearly pointed 
out^ at the time, that all those subjects whidi 
could not lead to academical distinctions would be 
virtually proscribed ; and that the well-known maxim 
of our lawyers in the interpretation of statutes 
would hold good in this case, " De non apparentibud 
et de non existentibus eadem est ratio." Whatever 
science was omitted in the list of studies selected for 
the trial of strength would be henceforth not merely 
slighted, but virtually blotted out of the academical 
course. Academical honours were here no empty 
bubbles, but might be expected to lead to fellowships, 
tutorships, livings, and other solid advantages. If the 
Heads of Houses and Members of Convocation had 
been simply legislating for national objects, and had 
not been the representatives of private and collegiate 
interests, which were not always identical with those 
of the public, it would have been easy to devise a 
comprehensive system of examinations, consisting of 
several boards, to which the professors, as well as 
tutors, would have been appointed, in stricter accor- 
dance with the spirit, and even letter, of the old sta- 
tutes, than the new law which was then enacted. But 
this might soon have altered entirely the relative posi- 
tion in which the college tutors now stood to the public 


readers and professors. The latter would soon have 
ficquired greater consequence in convocation ; and had 
such a measure been proposed by the Hebdomadal 
Board it would probably have been lost. Accordingly, 
it was soon found that the new examination statute of 
the year 1800 was to be worked by the college tu- 
tors, young men for the most part about thirty years 
of age ; and such being the case, no one can deny that 
studies embracing the Greek and Boman writers on 
history, philosophy, poetry, logic, rhetoric, and ethics, 
besides Christian theology, and the elements of mathe- 
matics, was as extensive a range as was compatible with 
such an executive. If they erred, their error certainly 
consisted in enlarging the circle of subjects far beyond 
the capacity of the college tutor, be his talents ever so 
great. The legislators especially displayed discretion in 
excluding from the schools all the more progressive 
branches of knowledge ; for, in order to be a safe guide 
in directing the opinions of a pupil, or teaching what 
is known in such branches, liable as they are to be 
modified from year to year, by new facts, dis- 
coveries, and investigations, the preceptor must have 
leisure to devote his mind exclusively to one subject. 
The new statute did not pass without a severe 
struggle. The rector of Lincoln College, in parti- 
cular, opposed it, as a measure that would extinguish all 
" thirst of knowledge." *^ There would henceforth," he 


said^ ^^be no university at all, but a system of cranmuDg 
and partial teaching, after which the student would 
go out into the world with a narrow mind and darker 

The necessity, however, of preparing for the com- 
pulsory examination, before taking a d^ree, worked 
immediately a salutary change in the habits and 
moral conduct of the idler students. The more clever 
and ambitious amongst them began to be excitod by 
the competition for honours; a marked improvement 
was soon apparent in academical discipline ; the uni- 
versity gained in public favour, and the number of 
students increased. The classes even of some of the 
professors were strengthened.; but this effect was of 
short duration. It was soon found that the honours 
awarded at the examinations led to fellowships and 
tutorships ; and the honourable rivalry of many of the 
colleges induced them to throw open their fellowships 
and scholarships much more freely than formerly to 
candidates of the highest merit; the standard of merit, 
however, being, for the most part, measured by the 
new examinations in the schools. New methods were 
from time to time invented for classifying the youths 
according to their intellectual qualifications. In 1807, 
students who distinguished themselves were arranged 
in two classes, in 1809 in three, and in 1826 in four. 
A preliminary examination, called the responsions,. or 


** little go," was introduced at the end of the first two 
years, or in the middle of the student's residence at Ox- 
ford. The examinations for degrees were made more 
and more stringent, and emulation at length stimulated 
to so high a pitch, that health was often sacrificed in 
the effort to gain the prize. Useful habits of appli- 
cation were often acquired, but the system was not 
calculated to foster a love of knbwledge for its own 
sake. To some there was even danger of injury both 
bodily and mental ; for if they succeeded, they were 
tempted to believe that they had already achieved 
something great ; if they failed, their abilities were 
underrated, both by themselves and their contempo- 

Another important revolution now took place. 
As the business of education had previously passed 
from the public readers and professors to the college 
tutors, so the latter were now in no small degree 
superseded by the private tutors or ** crammers." 
These were graduates chosen by the young men 
themselves, at an expense of 40Z. or 50/. a year, 
to read with them, both in term-time and vacation, 
and prepare them for the examination. An Oxford 
tutor informed me that, in the years 1840 and 1841, 
no less than 250, or one fifth of the resident stu- 
dents, procured this kind of assistance, the aggregate 
sum paid by them amounting to more than 10,000/. 


a year ! These young teachers watch the examin- 
ations, are acquainted with the style of the questions, 
whether vivd voce or on paper^ and often with 
the peculiar views of the examiner. It is their 
business to prevent their pupil £rom wasting Ms 
strength on topics not likely to be adverted to, and 
often to enable him to get by rote answers to 
certain interrogatories. The students are frequently 
unable to obtain this aid from the college tutor, 
whose system of lecturing is more general, and 
who cannot direct his attention to the individual 
wants and capacities of every pupil. The under- 
graduates, therefore, may be required to attend, be- 
tween ten and one o'clock, the lectures of the college 
tutors. The next two hours (from one to three) are 
generally occupied by the private tutors, comprising 
that portion of the day during which the professors 
are by statute required to lecture. At three o'clock, 
it is high time for the young men to seek recreation 
and exercise ; so that all the youths, especially the 
cleverest ones, are so entirely absorbed in a routine 
of study connected with the examinations, that the 
professorial class-rooms must imavoidably be aban- 
doned. Bachelors of arts, and other graduates, had 
been heretofore in the habit of attending public 
lectures; but most of them now became engrossed 
with the new and lucrative business of cramming. 


We learn from Dr. Peacock, now Dean of Ely, 
for many years an eminent tutor at Trinity College, / 
Cambridge, that in that university, also, a similar 
revolution took place nearly at the same time.* 
" A large proportion," he says, " of all the students, 
industrious or idle, rich or poor, resort to private 
tutors, to whom they pay, on an average, about 40/. 
a year. These teachers," he continues, " are young 
and inexperienced, and not competent to convey 
enlarged views " to their pupils. The labour imposed 
on them is too absorbing and severe to allow of the 
simultaneous prosecution of original studies; and 
"this unhappy system has contributed, more than 
any other cause, to the very general, and, in some 
respects, just complaints, which have been made of 
late years, of the paucity of works of learning and 
research which had issued from the University of 

And here I may observe, that it is often the 
boast of writers who extol our university system 
above that of other countries, that we promote 
liberal studies, and do not condescend to qualify 
students for a lucrative profession or trade. But what 
is the real fact ? Do not the majority of the ablest 
students toil at Latin, Greek, and mathematics, with 

* See his excellent work on the Statutes of the University 
of Cambridge, p. 156. 

VOL. I. O 


purely profesfiioiud objects ? Are thej not preparing 
themselves for beooming private tutors, sdioolmasters, 
and ooUege-tators ; expecting to combine these avo- 
cations with fellowships^ or with clerical duties? 
Are not the things they kam regarded as the means 
of g^rning a livelihood, or what the Germans call 
'< Brodstudien," in plain English, to '^ make the pot 
boil?" That some students should be qualifying 
themselves at the university to become masters incur 
public schools is highly desirable ; and it would be 
well if the station in society of the schoolmaster^ 
apart from any adventitious aid derived from unit- 
ing with it the clericsd function, ranked as high 
in England as it does in Grermany and the New- 
England States; but why should not the utilitari- 
anbm of our universities comprehend equally, within 
the sphere of its educational training, those branches 
of general knowledge which are equally essential to 
the future statesman, divine, lawyer, physician, and 
men of other liberal callings ? 

I am aware that it may be said, in regard to 
" crammers," that, under every system, some kind 
of private tuition will be required, and it will be 
asked, whether the assistants, under a professorial 
plan of instruction, would not be equally kept back 
in the improvement of their own minds ? Certainly 
not — they would divide themselves at once into 


as many sections as there are departments of study 
recognised in the public examinations. They would 
devote their minds steadily to subjects connected 
with theology, or with law, or medicine, or engineer- 
ing, or literary criticism, or applied mathematics, 
or other branches. Occasionally they would lecture 
for the professor, who, if worthy of his charge, 
must advance with his science, and not be ignorant 
of new discoveries and theories. Like him, they 
could not remain stationary. They would aspire 
in due time to fill his place, or some chair in another 
university. Such private tutors, whether lay or 
clerical, would not be found, at the expiration of ten 
years of hard and painful labour, precisely at the 
point from which they set out immediately after 
taking their first degree. 

In the year 1839, a last and most vigorous 
attempt was made at Oxford to restore the functions 
of the professorial body, which had now become 
contracted within the narrowest Umits. The pro- 
fessors of Experimental Philosophy, Comparative 
Anatomy, Chemistry, Mineralogy, Geology, Botany, 
Geometry, and Astronomy, many of them well known 
in the literary and scientific world, sent in a repre- 
sentation to the heads of Houses, in which they 
declared their inability to discharge the duties they 
had undertaken, notwithstanding their unabated zeal 

o 2 


and devotion. They accompanied their petition 
with a printed statistical table^ showing how tlie 
number of their classes had fallen off annually, 
during a period in which, as they truly observed, 
the branches of knowledge taught by them were 
rising in popular favour and importance. It ap- 
peared by their table^ that the anatomy class had 
dwindled between the years 1819 and 1838 to less 
than half, and that of astronomy to one fifth of 
its original numbers. The same had happened to 
the class of chemistry, between 1822 and 1838, 
many others having declined in the like ratio. 
The petitioners observed that, if no change were 
made in the examination statute, their usefulness 
as professors was at an end. 

A majority of the heads of Houses were favourable 
to a reform, and they consequently proposed a new 
examination statute, in which there was a provision 
requiring attendance on at least two series of 
professorial lectures, as a preliminary qualification 
for the bachelor of arts' degree. The subjects of 
the various professors' lectures were classified under 
two heads, and one course was to be selected by the 
student from each division. The professors were 
required to keep a register of attendance, and give 
certificates. Although a new board of examiners to 
bestow honorary distinctions was not part of this 

Chap.xiii. at OXFOHD IN 1839. 293 

plan, the measure might eventually have led to this 
and other improvements. 

But it was now too late — reform was beyond the 
power of the Hebdomadal Board. Several academical 
generations had grown up under the new order of 
things. The collegiate and private tutors were inte- 
rested in opposing the new provisions, and they were 
accordingly rejected in convocation. Yet while they 
threw out that part of the proposed statute which 
would have gone far towards reviving the professorial 
chairs, they passed another part requiring the pro- 
fessors of Astronomy, Experimental Philosophy, Che- 
mistry, Geology, Mineralogy, Anatomy, Botany, 
Medicine, Civil Law, English Law, Greek, Arabic, 
Sanscrit, Anglo-Saxon, Poetry, Modem History, 
and Political Economy, to deliver regular courses 
of lectures. They were, in fact, bound not only 
by ancient statutes to require the teachers above 
enumerated faithfully to discharge their duty, but 
in modem times, or since the examination sta- 
tute of 1800, they had sanctioned the foundation 
of new chairs, such, as Experimental Philosophy, 
Mineralogy, Geology, Political Economy, and Sans- 
crit, and had accepted annual grants from the Crown 
to endow certain readerships. In homage, therefore, to 
the moral obligations they had incurred, not to render 
these new and old foundations nugatory, they continued 

o 3 


to exact an outward oonformitj to the statutes^ by 
enforcing the dehvery of lectures, the efficiency of 
which they allowed other parts of their gfyetem 
entirely to defeat. Their conduct reminds us of 
the orders issued by Charles the Fiftti to offer up 
prayers throughout Spain for the deUyerance of the 
Pope, while he suffered his army to retain him pri- 
soner in the Castle of St. Angelo. 

It must not be inferred, however, from the prece- 
ding observations, that I assume that the majority of 
the members of Convocation are not men of high 
principle, and animated with a conscientious desire 
of discharging faithfully their public duties. They 
and their predecessors probably did not at any moment 
deliberately plan or avow to themselves the line of 
policy which they have followed out so systematically, 
and with so much unity of purpose. The judgment 
of each generation has been constantly biassed by the 
same disturbing causes (the collegiate and clerical in- 
terests), which, like a current steadily setting one 
way, has insensibly carried the whole academical body 
out of its true course. In conformity to these interests, 
the original constitution has been gradually modified, 
and the system, when changed, has formed the minds of 
the succeeding generation, preparing it for new inno- 
vations, all conceived in the same , spirit. If any 
single individual can be charged with a deliberate 

Chap.xiil at oxford. 295 

purpose of altering, essentially, the ancient consti- 
tution of the university, it is probably Archbishop 

The year 1839 was memorable in Europe for 
another event, tending to prove how unpropitious to 
the cultivation of the physical sciences is the eccle- 
siastical spirit, whenever it obtains an undue power 
of interference with academical institutions. In the 
year alluded to, the first ** congress " of scientific men 
took place in Italy. It assembled at Pisa, under the 
auspices of the enlightened prince who now reigns in 
Tuscany. The Pope interdicted all the professors of 
his colleges of Rome and Bologna, many of whom 
were prepared to co-operate warmly with the new 
association, from attending it. The papal prohibition 
was continued at the subsequent meetings at Turin, 
Florence, Milan, and elsewhere. Nevertheless, the 
congress flourished, and, in spite of the Pontlflfs oppo- 
sition, drew together many of the most distinguished 
men from all parts of Europe, and of Italy, beyond 
the confines of the States of the Church. It has also 
given to the world five costly volumes of valuable 
scientific memoirs, which, but for such patronage, 
might have remained unpublished to this day. 

Doubtless the vote of the Oxford Convocation in 
1839 was influenced by various motives; among others, 
a conscientious contempt for that sham professorial 

o 4 


^stem which the graduates had so long contrasted 
with a reality^ in the form of compulsory tutorial 
lectures and examinations, leading to degrees, and 
often followed by fellowships, livings, prebendal 
stalls, and bishoprics. In addition to these causes, it 
has been very generally understood that many, both 
of the college and private tutors, were opposed to the 
cultivation of the physical sciences on principle, on 
account of their alleged irreligious tendency. No one 
who reads some of the articles written by men who 
were fellows or tutors at Oxford, in the British 
Critic, against the ** British Association for the Pro- 
motion of Science," can wonder that such reports were 
credited, or that they provoked, from a prelate edu- 
cated at Oxford, the remark that " men who entertain 
such fears seem to forget that the book of Nature and 
the book of Revelation were both written by the 
same Author." 

Men are prone to imdervalue those branches of 
knowledge which are foreign to their own pur- 
suits; and if physicians, or lawyers, or civil en- 
gineers, had usurped as decided an ascendency in 
the legislation of a university, as the clerical gra- 
duates have now acquired at Oxford, complaints as 
loud and well founded might have been heard, that a 
due share of attention was not bestowed on studies 
connected with theology. In this spirit, therefore. 


it was attempted to mix up religious instruction with 
the teaching of other subjects. By some tutors it was 
held desirable that all ethics, metaphysics, and phi- 
losophy should be " christianized." 

The practice of taking up for the examinations 
for honours such works as Butler's Analogy and Ser- 
mons had been encouraged after the year 1830, when 
a statute had passed " that the philosophy of the an- 
cients might be illustrated in the schools, * ex neoteri- 
corum scriptis,' or by the writiirgs of the moderns." 
This and other changes had opened the door for 
considerable modifications in the course of academical 
study, and had given a new turn to the thoughts of 
many of the most rising and talented young men. It 
should be remembered that the last ten years has 
been the era of the Tractarian movement at Qxford, 
and the active intellect of the university has been for 
the most part absorbed in theological controversy. 
He who aspired to honours was bound in prudence to 
consider that his young judge, the arbiter of his acade- 
mical fate, might probably be an advocate of the views 
set forth in some one or more of the Tracts for the 
Times. He might be one who was fully impressed 
with the dogma, that " ethics unconnected with the 
church is a fundamental fallacy ;" that " man without 
the church has no right to educate man * ; " that 

* See Sewell*8 Christian Morals, ch. iv. and x. 

O 5 


*^ youth is too apt to delight in the indactiye^ instead 
of thedeductiye, reasoning ; " — "to prefer novelty to an- 
tiquity," investigation to obedience to authority, &c. 

As an example of the deductive process, as applied 
to my own favourite science, by a college tutor and 
public examiner of this period, I may die a passage 
from lectures delivered in the university at the era 
under consideration, and since published : — 

" A geologist, deeply impressed with the mystery 
of baptism, by which a * new creature,* Kaon} ktutls, 
is formed, by means of water and fire, would never 
have fallen into the absurdities of accounting for the 
formation of the globe solely by water or solely by 
fire. He would not have maintained either a Vul- 
canian or a Neptunian theory," * The reader may 
well imagine, that, if other departments of science 
were ** christianized " after the like fashion, the scho- 
lar might run some risk of emerging into the world, 
from his academical career, with his reasoning powers 
enfeebled, and his intellects mystified. 

But to conclude our historical sketch. After the 
year 1839, we may consider three-fourths of the 
sciences, still nominally taught at Oxford, to have 
been virtually exiled from the University. The class 
rooms of the professors were some of them entirely, 

* See Sewell's Christian Morals, ch. xxii . 


others nearly, deserted. Chemistry and botany at- ^ 
tracted^ between the years 1840 and 1844, from 
three to seven students ; geometry, astronomy, and 
experimental philosophy, scarcely more ; mineralogy 
and geology, still taught by the same professor 
who, fifteen years before, had attracted crowded 
audiences, from ten to twelve; political economy 
still fewer ; even ancient history and poetry scarcely 
commanded an audience ; and, strange to say, in 
a country with whose destinies those of India are 
so closely bound up, the first of Asiatic scholars 
gave lectures to one or two pupils, and these might 
have been absent, had not the cherished hope of 
a Boden scholarship for Sanscrit induced them to 

As if to complete the cycle of change, and to 
cause the system to depart as widely as possible from 
the original university, which secured for the students 
the services of public and permanent teachers, men 
of mature age and acquirements, and often highly 
gifted, the Oxford tuition now fell, from year to 
year, into the hands of younger graduates, whether 
in the capacity of private tutors or examiners. 
Several causes had concurred to accelerate the pro- 
motion of college fellows. Their number was still 
the same, not having increased with church ex- 
tension, and the inultiplication of new schools in a 

o 6 


growing population. It consequently became so 
difficult in many colleges to choose for tutors^ fellows 
who were not manifestly too young, that, to remedy 
the evil, several heads of Houses wisely permitted 
men who had forfeited their fellowship by marriage 
to continue as tutors. It would appear, from the 
Oxford Calendar for 1835, that no less than seven of 
the Colleges, and four of the Halls, have been driven 
to this resource. Nevertheless, the majority of the 
body of public examiners is often under the age of 
thirty, and some of them only twenty-five years old ! 
They go out of office in succession, after serving for 
two years. On this fluctuating body of young men, 
responsible to no one for their decisions, whether in 
passing students for degrees, or in awarding honours, 
a body having the power of modifying at their ca- 
price the whole style and tenour of the public 
examinations, the direction of academical education 
in this great country has practically devolved ! 

At Cambridge, the collegiate influence has, since 
i the Reformation, caused the university to pass gra- 
dually through nearly all the same phases as at 
Oxford. Here, also, the transference of the business 
. of instruction from the public and permanent to the 
i collegiate and temporary teacher, has coincided pre- 
cisely, in point of time, with greater strictness in 
the examinations, and more studious habits and 


better discipline among the undergraduates. It is 
natural that, owing to this coincidence, a false notion 
should be engendered, that the subdivision of labour 
amongst a well organized body of professors is less 
effective than the method of college tuition. 

It might, perhaps, have been expected that such a 
subdivision would have been carried farther at Cam- 
bridge, in consequence of more than half the students 
being members of two, out of seventeen, colleges; 
namely, Trinity and St. John's. These noble founda- 
tions contain, each of them, from 400 to 500 under- 
graduates, and might almost be regiirded, from their 
numerical strength, as universities of themselves. 
But although the fellowships in both of them are 
awarded to merit, the educational functions must 
be, comparatively speaking, of secondary importance 
to the fellow-tutor ; for, being almost invariably a 
clergyman, his highest hope of future preferment is 
not in the University, but in the Church. The 
proportion of students intending to take orders is 
not so large here as at Oxford, and they are not 
required to subscribe, on matriculation, any formula 
of religious belief, so that Roman Catholics and 
dissenters from the Church of England can study 
here, and obtain academical honours, though not 
degrees. The responsible duty of conducting the 
pubUc examinations is even here in the hands of very 


young men, though two of the mathematical profes- 
sors assist in awarding the Smith's Prize, the highest 
mathematical honour; and the professor of Greek 
and the public orator, presumed to be a first-rate 
Latin scholar, preside in the examination for the 
Chancellor's medal for classics. 

Very recently at Cambridge, all branches of know- 
' ledge taught by the professors — in a word, every 
subject except what is understood in our universities 
by classics and mathematics -^ have had sentence 
of banishment passed upon them in the form of new 
compulsory examinations, under the management of 
collie tutors, the Oxford plan of awarding honours 
to classical and mathematical attainments alone 
being adhered to. The professors of chemistry and 
anatomy, who had formerly considerable classes, 
have only mustered six or seven pupils, although 
still compelled to give courses of fifty lectures 
each. The chairs of Modem History, and of the 
Application of Machinery to the Arts, once num- 
bering audiences of several hundreds, have been in 
like manner deserted. Yet dispensations are rarely 
granted for the discontinuance of useless duties, even 
when only two pupils present themselves. 

Moreover, here, as at Oxford, it is not uncommon 
to give such chairs as Mathematics, Natural Phi- 
losophy, Chemistry, Botany, Astronomy, Geology, 


Mineralogy, and others, to clergymen, who combine 
them with clerical duties, or throw them up when 
they obtain preferment, and who, however eminent, 
owing, as they must do, a mixed all^iance, partly 
to their ecclesiastical order, and partly to the pro- 
fessorial body, cannot stand up with heart and 
courage in defence of the public, as opposed to the 
clerical and collegiate, interests. 

Dr. Whewell, now Master of Trinity, after many 
years' experience as a tutor at Cambridge, pubUshed, 
in 1837, his views on the plan of education adopted 
in the English universities. His arguments in favour 
of employing the learned languages as a main in- 
strument of education are imanswerable, and en- 
forced with great eloquence and power. ** In what 
a condition should we be," he observes, "if our 
connection with the past were snapped — if Greek 
and Latin were forgotten?"* No less cogent are 
his reasons for cultivating mathematics as a means 
of strengthening the reasoning powers and disci- 
plining the mind. But when we come to that part 
of his treatise in which he attempts to defend the 
exclusive monopoly enjoyed by these subjects in the 
education of young men at Oxford and Cambridge, 

* Principles of University Education, London, 1837, ch. i. 
sect. 4. 


from the ages of eigbteen to twenty-two, including 
a period at the end of which the majority of them 
qoit college altogether^ his commendations of the 
system appear to me rather to resemble the plead- 
ings of an advocate, than those enlightened and 
philosophical views which characterise his works in 
generaL Obedience and deference to authority are 
held forth as if they were the chief and ahnost sole 
moral virtues to be instilled into the minds of young 
academicians. The students are treated more as 
boys and children than as men on the very point of 
entering on their several duties in life, and who 
ought, without loss of time, to be acquiring habits 
of thinking and judgixig for themselves. 

^' Mathematical doctrines are fixed and perma- 
nent," says the historian of the Inductive Sci- 
ences, of whose remarks on this subject I shall 
give a brief abstract in his own words. " The 
old truths will always be true. In philosophical 
doctrines a constant change is going on. The old 
system is refuted, and a new one is erected. There 
is nothing old, nothing stable. The student cannot 
but suspect that his teacher and his teacher's creed 
are but for a day. The mind of a young man 
employed in attending to teachers of this kind must 
fail to acquire any steady conviction of the immutable 
and fixed nature of truth. He becomes a restless 

Chap. Xlir. CAMBRIDGE SYSTEM. 305 

speculator, criticising what has already been done in 
philosophy, attempting to guess what will be the 
next step. He is placed in the position of a critic 
instead of a piipil." — " In mathematics, the teacher is 
usually the superior of his scholar, who entertains a 
docile and confiding disposition towards his in- 
structor. He cannot give or refuse his assent when 
a system is proposed to him, nor feel in the situation 
of an equal and a judge. The subjects suitable for 
university teaching are the undoubted truths of 
mathematics, and works of unquestioned excellence, 
such as the best classical authors. When engaged 
in these, the student respects his instructor; they 
are the fit subjects of college lectures. A spirit of 
criticism is awakened by the study of philosophy, 
which is a fit subject oi professorial lectures."* 

In commenting on the above passages, I cannot 
refrain from remarking, that if the teacher of phi- 
losophy cannot command the respect of his pupils, 
he must be ill-qualified for his post. No one who is 
master of his favourite science will fail to inspire the 
minds of his more intellectual scholars with a love 
of what he teaches, and a regard and admiration for 
their instructor. " Addicti jurare in verba magistri," 
they will be only too prone to prefer Plato to truth, 

* University Education, pp. 46 — 53. 


and defend the professor's theory, even when he 
himself has seen reason to modify it in accordance 
with new fiu^ts and reasonings. 

When we inquire by what kind of training young 
men can best be prepared, before leaving the uni^ 
versity, to enter upon the study or practice of their 
professions, whether as lawyers, physicians, clergy* 
men, schoolmasters, tutors, or legislators, can we 
assent to the notion that, by confining instruc* 
tion to pure mathematics, or the classical writers, 
more especially if the latter are not treated in a 
critical spirit, we shall best accomplish this end? 
Do not these belong precisely to the class of subjects 
in which tiiere is least danger of the student's going 
wrong, even if he engages in them at home and 
alone ? Should it not be one of our chief objects to 
prepare him to form sound opinions in matters con- 
nected with moral, political, or physical science? 
Here, indeed, he needs the aid of a trustworthy 
guide and director, who shall teach him to weigh 
evidence, point out to him the steps by which truth 
has been gradually attained in the inductive phi- 
losophy, the caution to be used in collecting facts 
and drawing conclusions, the prejudices which are 
hostile to a fair inquiry, and who, while his pupil is 
interested in the works of the ancients, shall remind 
him that, as knowledge is progressive, he must avail 


himself of the latest acquisilioiis of his own age, 
in order to attain yiews more comprehensive and 
correct than those enjoyed even by predecessors of 
far superior capacity and genius. 

It may appear strange, that while such great 
sacrifices of time are made in England to the ex- 
clusive cultivation of classics, a larger proportion 
of the best modem editions of Greek and Latin 
authors are not the fruit of British scholarship. The 
cause, however, is easily explained. The highest 
excellence in literature or in science can only result 
from a life perseveringly devoted to one department. 
Such unity of purpose and concentration of power 
is wholly ineonsistent with our academical machinery 
of tuition. 

The panegyrists, indeed, of the modern university 
system in England, seem never to admit candidly 
this plain truth, that the colleges have no alternative 
in regard to the course of study open to them. 
Take any flourishing university in Ghreat Britain or 
on the Continent, Berlin, for example, or Bonn, or 
Edinburgh, where a wide range of sciences are 
taught. Let the students be divided into fifteen or 
more sections, without any classification in reference 
to their age, acquirements, talents, tastes, or future 
prospects. Assign to each section a separate set of 
teachers, chiefly clerical, and looking forward to 


preferment in the Church and public schools, and 
from them select all your public examiners. What 
must be the result? The immediate abandonment 
of three fourths of the sciences now' taught, while 
those retidned will belong of necessity to the less 
/ progressive branches of human knowledge. Under 
conditions so singular as those now imposed on Ox- 
ford and Cambridge, I am ready to join their warmest 
eulogists, and to contend that their plan of education 
is the best. 

In the treatise on the universities, before alluded to, 
there are hints thrown out on the " ignoble influence 
of compulsory examinations, which act on the fears 
rather than on the hopes of young men," and which 
have "drawn off many students from professorial 
lectures;" on "examiners not habitually pursuing 
particular studies, and whose knowledge, therefore, has 
no fulness, richness, depth, or variety;" also on private 
tutors having no ostensible and responsible situation 
in the university, and the tendency of modern 
changes to throw the whole academical education 
into their hands and those of the public examiners 
(ibid. ch. ii.) ; which may lead us to infer that the 
optimism of the Master of Trinity is not of that un- 
compromising kind which should make us despair of 
his co-operation in all future academical reforms. 

In considering the present state of feeling towards 


science and its cultivators in England, I cannot re- 
frain from citing a passage (with the leave of both the 
correspondents) from a letter dated February, 1845, 
addressed by Professor Liebig to Mr. Faraday : — 

" What struck me most in England was the per- 
ception that only those works that have a practical 
tendency awake attention, and command respect, 
while the purely scientific, which possess far greater 
merit, are almost unknown. And yet the latter are 
the proper and true source from which the others 
flow. Practice alone can never lead to the discovery 
of a truth or a principle. In Germany, it is quite 
the contrary. Here, in the eyes of scientific men, 
no value, or at least but a trifling one, is placed on 
the practical results. The enrichment of science is 
alone considered worthy of attention. I do not 
mean to say that this is better; for both nations 
the golden medium would certainly be a real good 

What I have said of the method and course of 
instruction now pursued in our principal universities 
will, I think, explain in no small degree the prevalence 
of the utilitarian spirit, so correctly pointed out by 
this distinguished foreigner, and the want of a due 
appreciation of the higher and more diflicult depart- 
ments of philosophical research. From what source is 
the public at large, whether belonging to the upper or 


middle dasaes, to imbibe a respect and yeneration for 
those who are engrossed in the pursuit of philosophical 
truth, and who live excluded from active life, if they 
who direct university education do not foster, nay, 
if they poatively discourage, the teaching of the pro- 
gressive sciences? How can the multitude learn, 
that, for one mind willing or capable of patiently 
working out and ^scovering a new truth or principle, 
there are hundreds who can apply to practice these 
principles, when once ascertained? Nothing can be 
more short-sighted, therefore, even on purely utili- 
tarian grounds, than the usual policy of the herd of 
cut h<mo pluloeophers, who award higher honours and 
emoluments to the application than to the discovery 
of scientific principles. 

It is truly fortunate that, in proportion as Oxford 
and Cambridge have withdrawn their countenance 
more and more from studies connected with , physical 
science and natural history, the wants of a high state 
of civilisation, and the spirit of the age, have afforded 
to them in England an annually increasing patronage. 
It is felt that astronomy is indispensable to navigation, 
chemistry to agriculture and various arts, geology to 
mining, botany to medicine, and so of other depart- 
ments. If the practical connection of any branch of 
science be not obvious, as in the case of zoology, 
scarcely any encouragement is given to it in any 


English place of education ; but even here, fortunately, 
the British Museum and the College of Surgeons, 
by their extensive collections, step in, and in some 
degree supply the deficiency. 

After the rejection at Oxford of the moderate 
measure of reform proposed in 1839, for combining 
together the professorial and tutorial systems, we can 
sc(trcely hope that any movement from within will 
effect [the changes so loudly called for. Time will, 
year after year, remove the older members of Con- 
vocation, who are favourable to more enlarged views, 
and will replace them, it must be feared, by the 
avowed partizans of the narrower system of study, 
adopted in more modem times, and under which 
they have been brought up. Appeal under such 
circumstances must therefore be made to an external 
authority. A royal commission like those which 
have more than once visited of late years the 
universities of Scotland, might prove a sufficient coun- 
terpoise to the power and vis inerticB of forty learned 
corporations. They might suggest such remedies as 
the licensing of new Halls, the removal of tests on ma- 
triculation, the awarding of honorary distinctions for 
proficiency in the subjects of the professorial lectures, 
and many others, which would doubtless be welcomed 
by the more enlightened members of Convocation. 
Fortunately, no violent innovations are called for, no 


new endowments, or grants of money. The com- 
missloners would have to recommend the renovation 
of what has fallen into disuse — the improvement of 
the old rather than the introduction of new and 
experimental systems; they would have to give force 
to existing academical statutes, now inoperative, 
rather than to enact new laws. They might under- 
take university reform in the temper recommended 
by Dr. Whewell (p. 138.), " bringing to the task a 
spirit, not of hatred, but of reverence for the past, 
not of contempt, but of gratitude towards our pre- 
decessors." No new fountains of knowledge are to 
be sought for in the depths of the earth ; they are 
already at the surface, ready, on the removal of im- 
pediments, to overflow and fertilize the soil. When 
Lord Hastings conquered Delhi in 1817, he foimd 
an extensive wilderness near that city, sterile, and 
parched up by the sun's heat, which had once been 
cultivated and populous; for in ancient times it had 
been irrigated by canals which brought the waters of 
the Jumna from a distance of 250 miles. The 
empire which had left these monuments of its ancient 
grandeur had long passed away, and having fallen to 
pieces, had formed a multitude of smaller kingdoms, 
each governed by feebler rulers. In a few years, 
by the aid of several thousand labourers, directed by 
skilful engineers, these ancient watercourses were 


repaired. They had been dry for two centuries and a 
half; and on the day appointed for the copious streams 
to flow once more through the streets of the ancient 
metropolis, the Hindoo priests went forth in solemn 
jHTOcession, while troops of virgins threw garlands of 
flowers into the waters as they advanced. It was a 
day of national jubilee and thanksgiving, for the hand 
of a foreign power had restored to them the works of 
their forefathers. 

But our ancient seats of learning, it will be said, 
80 far from being depopulated, are full to overflowing. 
Oxford annually refuses to admit new students, be- 
cause more cannot be accommodated within the college 
walls. Doubtless, the colleges are full, but can this be 
said of the imiversity ? Have Oxford and Cambridge 
kept pace, since the commencement of the present cen- 
tury, with the growth of the population, wealth, and 
desire of education, in the British empire ? So many 
millions have been added to our population, that the 
clergy have, of necessity, increased in number, and the 
English bishops have more generally required aca- 
demical degrees before ordination. This alone has 
caused a considerable augmentation of students. But is 
it not notorious that the expensive style of living, and 
the exclusion of branches of instruction connected 
with the future professions and individual tastes of 
students, have kept down the number of academicians ? 

VOL. I. p 


The sons of the aristocracy, and future divmes, who, 
if poor, may eke out their academical income with 
scholarships and other endowments, constitute the 
mass of the undergraduates. The colleges have bo 
desire to multiply the number of their pupils ; they 
have already as many as they can teach. The 
academical fees, and the cost of board and lodging, 
are very reasonable ; but the style of living is so high, 
that students with small incomes feel themselves in 
a false position ; and this objection has operated far 
more than religious tests to check the natural in- 
crease of the universities. 

Why, it may be asked, should we crowd all the 
British youth into two ancient seats of learning? 
Why not promote the growth of other institutions 
in London, Durham, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland ? 
That such competition should be encouraged, I fully 
admit ; but it will still be desirable that Oxford and 
Cambridge should expand freely, and that they 
should cease to serve as models of an exclusive and 
sectarian principle. Before the Reformation their 
spirit was catholic and national : since that period, 
they have dwindled, not into theological seminaries, 
for they have never in practice afforded a complete pro- 
fessional course for divinity students, but into places 
for educating the clergy of the Established Church, 
and the aristocratic portion of the laity professing the 


same form of Christianity. Such a system^ coupled 
with the abandonment of professional studies in ge- 
neral, tends to dissever throughout the country men 
of different callings,' creeds, and professions. It has a 
dissociating influence. It separates during the period 
of youth the nobility and gentry from the higher por- 
tion of the middle classes, the barrister from the 
attorney, the physician from the surgeon, the legis- 
lators and lawyers of England from those civilians 
to whom the government of eighty millions in India 
is to be consigned, the members of the Anglican 
church from the Romanists of Stonyhurst or the 
Dissenters of Hackney, the civil engineers of Putney 
from the medical students of London. It disunites 
these and other sections of the same community, and 
throws them into antagonist masses, each keeping 
aloof from the other in cold and jealous seclusion, 
each cherishing sectarian or party animosities, or 
professional and social prejudices. Complaints are 
often heard, and not without reason, of the harsh 
outlines that often separate the different grades of 
society in this country. It is in the season of youth, 
and when men are engaged in the common pursuit of 
knowledge, — especially if allowed as far as possible to 
follow the bent of their own tastes and genius, — that 
friendships might easily be formed tending to soften 
these hard outlines. At college, they would be 

316 EK0LI8H UnVSRSinsa. Gh^. XIII. 

brought together on neutral^ and usually on friendly 
ground, wh^re kindly feelings and sympathies would 
spring qp spontaneously, and would be cherished in 
after-Iif^ by congenial *bou1s, however distant the sta- 
tion, or distinct the religious opinions or professional 
employments of the former fellowHstudents.* 

* While these dieets were passing through the press, an im- 
j portant discnasion took place in the House of Commons, in con- 
y^ - sequence of a motion made April lOth, 1845, by Mr. Christie, 
M. P. for WeTmouth, for a royal commission of enquiry into 
the state of education in the EngUsh tmiversities. I have 
added and altered nothing since reading this debate, and it 
will be seen that while there is a coincidence in some of mj 
views with those so ably advocated by many of the parlia- 
mentary i^>eakers, there are other grounds taken up by me 
to which they have not alluded. 


London s 

Prloted by A. Spottiswooob, 
New^ Street-Sqoare. 






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